On Friday, we’ll finally know if high school soccer in Pennsylvania will officially have a Fall season, or not.
Decision Day Updates & Reaction:
— Pittsburgh Sports Now (@PghSportsNow) August 21, 2020
PIAA Fall Sports Update: pic.twitter.com/RqD73jRTTG
— PIAA (@PIAASports) August 21, 2020
— Brad Everett (@BREAL412) August 21, 2020
@BoysLakes time to get to work 🐶🐶
— Michael Sullivan (@Msullivan_09) August 21, 2020
— Veronica Buccilli (@VeeBuccilli) August 21, 2020
How We Got To This Point
It was more than two weeks ago when Governor Tom Wolf along with PA’s Department of Health and Department of Education made the ‘strong recommendation’ for all scholastic sports be delayed until at least January 1.
At that point, the PIAA’s board convened immediately, but instead of making a decision, opted to try to work with the Governor and state officials. The PIAA publicly disagreed, arguing the Governor’s recommendation isn’t based on relevant data, and the board could vote to allow fall sports to continue against the wishes of the governor and his administration.
“Everybody wants at least some sort of answer or guidance to move on,” WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “not just a continual push back.”
The 32-person PIAA board meets online at 3 p.m. The board includes members from all 12 PIAA districts along with representatives for the state’s principals, superintendents, game officials and other specific constituencies.
“I know they’ve heard from a lot of people from both sides,” Scheuneman said. “Everything is being taken into consideration. It’s going to be an important decision that they make for all of us.”
PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi told state legislators during Tuesday’s hearing before the Pa. Athletic Oversight Committee that the PIAA “would like to move forward with the start of fall sports.”
In the meantime, WPIAL officials are also meeting with Allegheny County Health department in how to move forward and work together in preparations for a Fall sports season.
A statement issued Thursday by an ACHD spokesperson said the 50-person limit applies to sports and “is intended to limit the spread of covid-19 in our community. That is particularly true for groups of youth who are often asymptomatic while having the virus and may not realize that they are spreading it.”
However, the ACHD noted that guidance from the WPIAL and PIAA already includes “extensive protocols” to address covid-19.
“The Allegheny County Health Department is looking at those protocols and will work with WPIAL to ensure safe events in the county meet COVID guidelines while also allowing sporting events to occur with appropriate measures in place,” the ACHD spokesperson said.
Ed Rosensteel and I discussed this topic earlier this week in PSN Coaches Corner, where we both made our cases and weighed the pros and cons.
While we both agreed that poor leadership and lack of a consensus in steering ahead a plan that everyone would need to follow has only left more questions and concerns — and left high school soccer (and all fall sports participants) players, coaches and families in limbo.
Ed made the point that if we don’t push forward, and try to make it work in the Fall, we won’t be able to institute best practices and have real, tangible data that school districts, administrators at WPIAL and PIAA can work with to ensure the best protocols and safety measures going forward.
After weeks of debate and delays, it’s time to decide.
FOLLOW ALONG: The PIAA will decide the fate of all fall sports for high schools Friday at 3pm.
I will be attending the board meeting and will bring you the very latest updates as they are happening.
Please share this tweet so others in your community can find the updates! pic.twitter.com/5xxbOwoKY3
— Allie Berube (@allieberube) August 21, 2020
Decision Day from PIAA #LetUsPlay
— Golden Eagles Boys Soccer (@KOEaglesSoccer) August 21, 2020
Meanwhile, naturally, the players want to play. The coaches want to coach. And there’s no doubt, there’s a few emotional parents letting their voices be heard as well.
There’s a lot of momentum around the state, and here in Western PA revolving around #WeWantToPlayMovement.
You need to let @GovernorTomWolf know! It is the state’s “strong recommendation” against fall sports that is putting local districts and leagues in a terrible position.
— @LetThemPlayPA (@letthemplaypa) August 8, 2020
!! @GovernorTomWolf !! Please watch our video. #WeWantToPlay@PIAASports @WPIAL_Insider @letthemplaypa @SenWilliamsPA @SenatorIovino @RepMihalek @PGSportsNow @TribHSInsider @TribSports @edrosensteel @MoonAreaTigers #LetThemPlay pic.twitter.com/F4zbB7Wk21
— Moon Girls Soccer (@_MLTS_) August 13, 2020
If the PIAA decides at their 3pm meeting tomorrow that fall high school sports cannot be played there are going to be riots. I might lead them. Honestly speaking this is all complete nonsense. Enough is enough already with this virus. Let the kids play.
— 𝕌𝕟𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕖𝕕 𝕊𝕠𝕔𝕔𝕖𝕣 𝕄𝕠𝕞 (@NEPASoccerMom) August 21, 2020
— Christopher Stone, Ph.D (@DR_CHRIS_STONE) August 19, 2020
Help us push the PIAA into continuing fall sports! Comment here to let the PIAA know how important fall sports are to you. Parent and players speak up! @PIAASports @BobGreenburg @NCNewsSports @ncshaft @mwhiteburgh @CHarlan_Trib @NewCastleSrHS @CoachBlundo @WPIAL_Insider pic.twitter.com/nq59qVLIBH
— Coach Cowart (@coachjcowart) August 7, 2020
I’ll say it again
The governor office has made 1000’s of recommendations that local officials have disagreed with and went a different direction. It happens everyday and this is no different. To move forward the decision is in the hands of PIAA, WPIAL, and the superintendents. https://t.co/DSXH3FTcDN
— WPIAL Sportsmen (@wpialsportsnews) August 21, 2020
There are plenty of folks who, understandably, have concerns and there are going to challenges if high schools and scholastic sports are played in the fall.
Should PIAA vote Friday to continue the fall sports season, some hurdles remain for school districts https://t.co/VbfBd2WiTi
— PennLive.com (@PennLive) August 21, 2020