Wednesday the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, using guidelines supplied by state health officials, said fall sports will start on time across the state.
At a time when many leagues have shut down college sports through December — including the Patriot League (Bucknell) and the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (Bloomsburg) — we wonder if this is the right call to play high school sports. If colleges, with more resources, don’t feel like they can make it safe for student-athletes, why do high schools and the PIAA?
Consider one of the guidelines piled in the 26-page report: No spectators. PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi said, “We’re anticipating in most of our scenarios there will be no spectators at games.”
So someone is saying that it’s safe for students to play a game — many of which require some semblance of contact and many that will challenge all social distancing guidelines — and travel on a bus with teammates to the games, but parents, classmates and others watching will be in danger.
Teachers who will be spending all day in classrooms of 20 to 25 students won’t be permitted to go watch their own children participate?
That probably means no marching bands. No cheerleaders.
If that’s the case, then the games shouldn’t be played until it is safe for everyone.
We don’t want student-athletes to miss another season, no one does. It’s about safety and it must always start there.
Right now, no one can — with 100 percent certainty — say schools will even open for in-person instruction, so it’s time to pump the breaks on extra-curricular activities.
Football teams are scheduled to begin heat acclimatization on Aug. 10. A week later all fall sports — boys and girls soccer, cross country, golf, field hockey and girls tennis — can begin practice with games scheduled to start in late August or early September.
It just feels like it’s too soon.
We want sports to be back as much as all of you do. The Daily Item sports reporters want to be back covering our teams, our kids. There is something special about a town rallying around a sports team, it’s a tie that can bind generations, too.
Last week, the association that oversees scholastic sports in California pushed back the start of sports until at least December with games likely not to begin until January. They will then combine winter and spring sports into the season. A similar time frame will be in place in Virginia with winter sports running from December to February, fall sports from March through May and spring sports from late April until June.
No one knows if those plans will work either, but they buy time. Right now, that means a lot.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.