Youth sports can resume this fall, PIAA says

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association voted 25-to-5 in favor of allowing high school sports to continue this fall. 

The PIAA says sports can begin on Monday, “based on local school decisions,” allowing each school district to make its own choice about whether to proceed with sports, and which ones.

“Let the record show 25-5 in favor of the motion to begin the fall sports on Monday, Aug. 24,” announced PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi.

PIAA Fall Sports Update:

— PIAA (@PIAASports) August 21, 2020

“As the health and safety of students is paramount in moving forward with athletics, the Board believes that through each member schools’ adherence to their developed school health and safety plans and the PIAA Return to Competition guidelines sports can continue,” read a statement.

No spectators will be allowed at games or matches — which include tennis, football, field hockey, and soccer — as to follow state rules on limits on outdoor gatherings. Lombardi, however, is advocating for people to be allowed in the stands.

PIAA also says it will also monitor school participation in fall sports and may pursue alternate solutions as needed.

The PIAA had already delayed the start of fall sports by two weeks, after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf recommended that fall sports be postponed until the spring due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine also backed the governor.

The PIAA previously said it was blindsided and “tremendously disappointed” by the governor's recommendation and has insisted fall sports can be played safely. Several Pennsylvania high schools have reported cases among athletes practicing in the fall, prompting temporary shutdowns of programs.

Philadelphia is among the districts that have already canceled fall sports, saying the risk of spreading coronavirus is too great, while other districts plan to play.

Wolf also pointed out that major collegiate leagues have independently canceled fall sports. He's also been clear that his recommendation is just that — a recommendation, not an order or mandate.