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Robert Inglis/The Daily Item Shikellamy football players stand on the sideline before the start of a recent game.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association voted Friday to delay the start of fall sports two weeks in order to continue discussions with the Wolf Administration about whether or how sports can safely take place.

During a meeting of the PIAA Board of Directors today, the PIAA said "mandatory fall sports activities are paused" for two weeks. Football was scheduled to begin Monday with the rest of fall sports — soccer, cross country, tennis, golf and field hockey — were set to start on Aug. 17. The earliest fall practice could start is now Aug. 24.

The board will meet again on Aug. 21 to discuss fall sports.

The "PIAA remains committed to providing a season for each of the sports during the 2020-2021 school year," the PIAA said in a release.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday had announced that his “strong recommendation” is that the state should postpone scholastic and youth sports until Jan. 1.

“The PIAA Board of Directors has heard the thousands of voices of student-athletes, parents, coaches, and community leaders that have contacted us. The board believes the governor’s strong recommendation to delay sports to Jan. 21, 2021 has a potential negative impact on the students’ physical, social, emotional and mental health,” the PIAA board said in a statement. “These issues along with the financial inability of many students to participate in any other form of non-school athletic programs, affect all students directly or indirectly.”

The board said its hopes to “work collaboratively” with Wolf and the Department of Health to discuss fall sports.

Wolf on Thursday said he was calling for sports to postpone to slow the spread of coronavirus.

"The guidance is we ought to avoid congregate settings," Wolf said. "Anytime we get together for any reason, that's a problem."

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had urged the PIAA to push for sports to be allowed, despite the governor’s recommendation.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre County, and Senate Education Committee chairman Wayne Langerholc wrote to the PIAA Friday, saying the decision about whether to offer sports or participate in them should be made by local schools, parents and their children.

“Even in the Governor’s own press release, his administration stated that the decision to cancel sports should be at the local level,” they wrote. “We ask you not to cancel youth sports for the remainder of the year and to continue forward with the plan you deemed safe last week. If a decision to sports competition should be made, it should be made at the local school level and with parents.”

State Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria County, on Friday said he’d been told by local school officials that they’d like to offer sports if the PIAA allowed it.

 “A PIAA decision to continue with fall sports would allow individual districts to make a decision on whether to participate,” he said.

While Pennsylvania continues to debate the issue, neighboring states have already postponed fall sports. Delaware’s high school sports governing body voted Wednesday to postpone fall sports until at least December. Maryland did the same thing on Monday, voting to postpone fall sports until January.

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