PIAA appeals to Gov. Wolf to open a dialogue about fall sports
By Joseph Santoliquito
On Tuesday, the PIAA sent a letter to Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, asking to meet with he and his staff to share dialogue as to options so there could be fall sports in a safe environment in Pennsylvania. Wolf recommended last week that all fall sports be cancelled for the 2020 calendar year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until then, multiple sources confirmed that Gov. Wolf’s office had not addressed the issues of fall sports with the PIAA. It’s been the PIAA that had appealed numerous times to Gov. Wolf’s office.
PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi has been a staunch advocate for fall sports to be played.
He stressed the letter included an area where sports are being played throughout the state in tournament formats and to the PIAA’s knowledge, no coronavirus breakouts have occurred.
On Monday, the Philadelphia Public League announced that its fall sports seasons have been cancelled, with the chance of those sports, obviously including football, being played in the spring.
“The Philadelphia Public League had to make their decision I believe that was in the best interest of their schools and students,” Dr. Lombardi said. “We would support that. However, their situation with the virus is far different than other areas in the state.”
As of Wednesday, August 12, Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of Health support Lombardi’s claim. Philadelphia County has 26,985 cases of COVID-19, with 26,977 confirmed. Cameron County has had seven cases since March. Forrest County has 10, seven that are positive. Jefferson County has 74 cases, 53 are positive.
These are rural areas, where the population is not as dense as Philadelphia’s.
“It’s a different dynamic (in the Philadelphia area in comparison to the rest of the state), and because it is so different, people are making the best decisions that they can based on the information that they have if they can provide a safe environment for people to play.”
The Big Ten and the Pac-12 Conferences on Tuesday went public with the cancellation of their fall sports seasons.
“What we’ve done is this, to give as many people the opportunity to play, bases on the decisions of their local school administration,” Lombardi said. “The decision that will be a little tighter is whether or not to have a postseason.
“That’s a huge decision to make. The intent is trying to get as much done in a short period of time and stay away from the late-November start of flu season. It’s no different than schools starting early to get done before Thanksgiving.
“The Philadelphia Public League shut down, but there is still a window open to change.”
The next PIAA meeting will be Friday, August 21.
“We’re trying, we’re really trying with this,” Lombardi said. “It breaks my heart that people really don’t consider how important this is to young people socially, mentally, emotionally and physically.”
Photo credit: Kimberly Supko – follow her @CaptureLifeMom
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
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