Panel delays decision on Pennsylvania sports for two weeks

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Head coach Zachary Reichert, left, takes Nicholas Giuffre’s temperature prior to the start of Pottsville’s boys’ soccer practice at Alumni Field in Pottsville, Pa., Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Tom Wolf recommended that no sports take place until January 1, 2021. Previously, state guidelines posted to the Governor’s Office website stated that “the decision to resume sports-related activities, including conditioning, practices and games, is the discretion of a school entity’s governing body.” Games, as also stated on the Governor’s Office website, would be limited to players, coaches, officials, and staff. (Lindsey Shuey/Republican-Herald via AP)

HARRISBURG, Pa. | The governing body for Pennsylvania school sports on Friday delayed making, for at least two weeks, a decision about whether to follow the governor’s recommendation and cancel sports until January.

The board of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said mandatory fall sports activities are on hold until its next meeting on Aug. 21. The association hopes to use that time to discuss the matter further with Gov. Tom Wolf. Voluntary workouts can continue in the meantime.

The board issued a statement that said it wanted Wolf and agencies under him “to partner with us and work collaboratively to further discuss fall sports,” and hoped for “insight and discussion” from state lawmakers.

“It is clear to PIAA, the unintended consequences of canceling fall sports need to be further reviewed,” the association’s statement said.

The group maintains fall sports can be conducted safely.

Wolf said Thursday that his “strong recommendation and not an order or mandate” was to hold off on youth league and school sports to help prevent transmission of the coronavirus. Decisions about whether to play, however, he left to local school boards.

The PIAA has developed health and safety plans for school sports, and the prospect of ending them for the coming months comes just as teams are starting to prepare for the fall season.

Some schools have already decided to forgo sports this fall, and some high school leagues had also previously delayed the start of their fall seasons.

The 1,431-school PIAA, a nonprofit corporation based in the Harrisburg suburbs, was founded more than a century ago and includes nearly all public high school and middle schools in the state, along with many charter and private high schools. It describes its purpose as to develop and enforce rules about interscholastic athletic competition.

Its main source of revenue is ticket sales to championship games. Schools also pay dues.
In other Pennsylvania coronavirus-related developments:

NEW CASES

Pennsylvania officials reported 15 new deaths and 758 additional positive cases from the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday. Since the virus arrived in the state early this year, nearly 7,300 people have died and more than 148,000 have tested positive for infection.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than the state’s confirmed case count because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected without feeling sick.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.