By: KDKA-TV News Staff
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has voted 25-5 in favor of beginning the fall sports season on Monday.
On Friday, the PIAA Board of Directors voted to permit fall sports like football, soccer, tennis, field hockey, girls volleyball and others to begin based on decisions made by the schools.
“The Board agrees the decision to compete in athletics should be made locally allowing for each school entity to decide whether to proceed and which sports to sponsor,” the PIAA said in a release.
“The PIAA is committed to providing a season for all sports and all student-athletes in the upcoming school year and will continue to remain flexible,” the PIAA added.
The board believes if each school listens to the health and safety guidelines, a return to competition should work. The board added it heard from thousands of student-athletes, coaches and parents since its last meeting.
“I know, at least at our place, we’re going to do everything we can to keep it that way. We don’t want to just start playing, we want to continue to play,” said Pine-Richland football coach Eric Kasperowicz.
PIAA Fall Sports Update: pic.twitter.com/RqD73jRTTG
— PIAA (@PIAASports) August 21, 2020
Two weeks ago, the PIAA voted to delay the start of fall sports after Pa. Governor Tom Wolf made a recommendation that sports be postponed until January 2021.
Locally, Allegheny County and the WPIAL say the outdoor gathering limit of 50 still applies to sports, but teams on the sideline and the players on the field each count as individual gatherings. This means a game could have up to 150 people in three different “pods.”
The “pods” plan is tricky for coaches like Kasperowicz, who has a roster of nearly 80 players.
“I’m going to have to cut. Either I don’t have all my coaches, a lot of the young JV kids won’t get to dress,” the coach said.
Plans from the PIAA and the WPIAL also prohibit spectators for K-12 sports and put other safety guidelines in place like social distancing when athletes aren’t competing, required mask-wearing for coaches and staff and no sharing equipment.
Some local districts are looking at not playing this fall, including Pittsburgh Public Schools. Superintendent Dr. Anthony Hamlet says his administration recommended to the school board not to have fall sports.
“How can we conceivably not have kids in school but have kids in contact sports not wearing masks? So that was the mindset and we’re going to vote on it next Wednesday,” Hamlet said.
Dr. Hamlet says he’s not sure how the school board will vote.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller Talks To North Hills Football Team
In Pine-Richland, parents have put up signs near the entrance of the high school to show support for the student-athletes. Some of the signs read “let us play.”
“There’s no red shirts in high school,” said parent Todd Jochem. “This is their last chance.”