TAYLOR COUNTY—As thousands of Pennsylvania high school football players continue to prepare for a potential fall football season and West Virginia schools wait on PA’s ultimate decision, the latest suggestions from the state’s leadership does not appear to provide an optimistic outlook.
During a morning press conference on Thursday, PA Governor Tom Wolf was asked about the status of high school athletics and his response was not received well by the public.
“The guidance from us, the recommendation, is that we don’t do any sports until January 1st,” Wolf announced to the dismay of many.
Shortly after 4 p.m. on Thursday, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIALL), who was “blindsided” by the declaration according to reports, issued a statement of their own.
“We are tremendously disappointed by this decision,” the release stated. “Our member schools have worked diligently to develop health and safety plans to allow students the safe return to interscholastic athletics.”
The PIAA also added that it has scheduled a meeting for Friday and intends to prepare another official response after the conference. Just last week, the PIAA approved return-to-play guidelines, initiating some hope that fall sports will be salvaged.
“Executive Director Bob Lombardi said during a post-meeting question-and-answer session that to his current understanding, there are going to be no spectators under the guidelines currently in place in the state,” reported PennLive, a central Pennsylvania media and reporting group, on July 29th. “However, if teams want, they can start on September 18th for football and September 14th for other fall sports. This alternative plan would allow football to start practice on August 10th along with heat acclimatization.”
Some leagues, such as Mid-Penn, have already pushed back the scheduled start dates of fall sports, with the earliest practice opportunities falling well into next month.
The impact of a possible delay or even cancelation of Pennsylvania high school fall sports will have a major impact on the decisions made by West Virginia schools, as many schools across our state, especially in the panhandles, rely on Pennsylvania teams to help fill out their schedules.
Just a few weeks ago, Virginia canceled their high school fall sports seasons while the state of Maryland delayed theirs just a few days later, leaving West Virginia schools scrambling to find teams for their new open dates.