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Fall sports in Pa. during COVID-19? PIAA leaders also want families in the stands

PITTSBURGH — Another meeting to discuss the future of fall sports in Pennsylvania amid the coronavirus pandemic was held Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee had its meeting at 11 a.m. in the Pennsylvania Senate Chamber. The committee listened to testimony about the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and school district plans on how to play sports safely.

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State Sen. Jay Costa took part in the bipartisan meeting, which came a day after PIAA associate executive director Melissa Mertz said, “We feel fairly confident that we can get school sports up and running.”

>>STORY: PIAA official: ‘Fairly confident’ fall sports can proceed

There has been back and forth between the PIAA, Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. The athletic organizations have questioned Wolf’s “strong recommendation” to postpone sports until Jan. 1.

Republican state lawmakers are raising a red flag and asking what data Wolf is using to back his reasoning.

Wolf weighed in, saying that it is all just a recommendation at this point, but if his children were still in high school, he wouldn’t want them to participate.

“When it comes to PIAA, again, I made a recommendation. The PIAA will do what they want to do, and the school districts will do what they want to do. I’m giving guidance here,” Wolf said.

But not only does the head of the PIAA believe there needs to be fall sports, he also said they need families in the stands during games.

“Parents, guardians and grandparents need to be in attendance to see their children perform. From a health and safety standpoint, if there is any type of injury or trauma to an athlete, they would be available to assist in the treatment and assessment of their child,” said executive director Robert Lombardi.

The PIAA board is scheduled to make a final decision on sports on Friday.