The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Administration (PIAA) decided on Wednesday during a Zoom meeting to allow Dr. Robert Lombardi leeway in allowing high school sports to resume in the state.
Currently, sports are shut down until July 1 — the official start of the 2020-2021 scholastic and athletic calendar for the state. However, during Wednesday’s meeting, Lombardi said that he’ll most likely allow athletics to begin in counties once they are considered green by Pennsylvania or if given approval by Gov. Tom Wolf.
The PIAA Board of Directors approved the directive by an unanimous vote.
Lombardi told the media after the meeting that he’s “cautiously optimistic that there will fall sports in Pennsylvania.”
However, there’s no indication when Gov. Wolf will allow sports to resume. Just because a county turns green doesn’t mean its teams can immediately return to offseason workouts, Lombardi said.
The National Federation of State High School Associations released 16 pages of guidelines on how high school sports can return during the coronavirus pandemic this week.
NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) developed the guidance document. SMAC is a 15-member advisory committee composed of medical doctors, certified athletic trainers, high school coaches and officials, research specialists and state high school association executives that regularly develops position statements related to medical aspects of conducting high school athletics.
“There’s a lot of detail in there, and there’s some things that I think are very questionable,” Lombardi said. “I think it really needs to go to (the PIAA) sports medicine (committee) before anyone else.”
The guidelines recommend three different tiers to returning. Fans wouldn’t be allowed at the games until third phase, which begins when social distancing requirements end. There are recommendations that cover pre-practice testing, size of the gathering, the cleaning of all facilities between practices, and hydration by athletes during practices and games.
Lombardi said the PIAA would use the NFHS document as a resource, but that it would follow instructions from Wolf and the state’s Department of Health and Department of Education when it was time for sports to resume.