COVID-19 impacts PIAA, Penn State sports | News, Sports, Jobs

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf sent shock waves throughout the sports world Thursday when he recommended at his daily press conference that no sports should be played until Jan. 1, 2021.

The response came when a reporter asked for guidance regarding fans and spectators at high school sporting events this fall.

The stunning announcement led to the PIAA holding an emergency board meeting not long after Wolf’s announcement in the late morning. The executive session meeting was closed to the media and guests and lasted nearly 90 minutes.

“Today, Governor Wolf issued a statement of strongly recommending no interscholastic and recreational sports until January 1st. We are tremendously disappointed in this decision. Our member schools have worked diligently to develop health and safety plans to allow students the safe return to interscholastic athletics,” the PIAA said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

The statement noted that the PIAA Board of Directors will be meeting today “to review this action” and will have an official statement today.

The recommendation was not an order or mandate by the governor.

“The guidance is that we ought to avoid any congregate settings and that means anything that brings people together is going help that virus get us.,” Wolf said. “We ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus. So anytime we get together for any reason, that’s a problem because it makes it easier for that virus to spread. So the guidance from us, the recommendation, is that we don’t do any sports until Jan. 1.”

The announcement appears to have been a surprise to the PIAA, which had worked alongside the governor and Pennsylvania Department of Health in developing Return to Play plans and guidelines to safely resume sports. As of last week, the PIAA said that it was going to press forward with fall sports as planned and football heat acclimatization were scheduled to begin Aug. 10.

If the PIAA were to follow the governor’s recommendation, it would mean that high school football, soccer, cross country, girls tennis and volleyball would not be played this fall.

The high school football season was scheduled to begin with Week 1 on Friday, Aug. 28.

Sports being played amid the pandemic have been able to be done safely the past handful of weeks, showing that it is possible with proper guidelines being enforced. Local Little Leagues have had games with said guidelines this summer for instance.

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