The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) and its head — Dr. Robert Lombardi — reiterated the PIAA’s stance that fall sports should be played during a meeting Wednesday.
“We think its important that these students get a well-rounded education, and sports is a part of that,” Lombardi said. “There is a lot of what ifs with this, but I think the biggest what if is what if we didn’t try to do all that we can to get the fall sports in this season.”
The PIAA quickly put together meetings with all of the fall sports steering committees to formulate plans for each sport to return to the field.
“I’d like to thank all of the board of the directors that put in a lot of hard work over the last two weeks to put these meetings together,” said Pete Iacino, the District 10 chairman.
In a move toward that goal, the PIAA released its guidelines for each fall sport to play during the COVID-19. All sports have to follow some basic rules, but here is a look at some rules that are unique to a particular sport.
Events with four or fewer teams should limit the maximum participants to 12 from each team, and use staggered starts. Schools are also to try to widen the course at its narrowest to more than six feet. Big races are to use FAT timing if at all possible, but if they can’t, sticks used for determining place should be disposable. On-site team tents will be discouraged.
Extend the teams' benches to encourage social distancing. Extra balls are to be placed around the field. Ball holders are encouraged to use their feet or wear gloves to return balls to designated areas. Essential personnel will be allowed at the table, which is the home team timer and scorer. Visiting statisticians will have to find an alternate place. If a team member is carded, the PIAA encourages a box away from the scorers table for the player to remain.
The team box will be from 10-yard line to 10-yard line to promote social distancing for the players. The balls need to rotate to sideline after every play so that the ball boys can disinfect them — while wearing gloves — under the supervision of an adult. Players will be required to get a face guard for their helmet. Mouth guards are to remain in mouths, if they are removed by a player, it must be disinfected and the player must use hand sanitizer before placing back in his mouth. Huddles will be minimized and coaches are to use different methods of communication — signals, cards or signs.
There aren’t many changes with golf. The plan is to start from one tee, and space out the tee times a little longer to promote social distancing. Score cards and pencils won’t be handed out to players, either.
Extra balls will be placed around the field, and ball handlers (ball boys and girls) will be encouraged to not use their hands to return balls to players. The bench areas will be expanded for social distancing. No pregame World Cup-style introductions will not be allowed, and no huddles on the field. Water bottles must be kept off the field of play, and goalies are encouraged to keep a water bottle behind the net for the purpose of wetting their gloves instead of spit.
The scorers’ table will be limited as well. A time keeper and a home-team official scorer will only be allowed at the table. Visitor team statistician is not considered essential, and will have find another place to sit.
Players are to avoid using their hands in returning balls to the other side of the net. They are to use their racket or their feet. When playing doubles, they must coordinate with their partner to maintain social distancing. Opponents are to use different numbered balls, and use only those balls.
Teams will no longer switch benches between sets, and the home team will select its bench before the match. Team areas will be extended. The official table will be limited to home team scorer, libero tracker and timer.