HARRISBURG, Pa. — A day away from a decision by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association regarding fall sports, parents and student athletes went to Harrisburg to make sure the governor knows how they feel.
Football players are preparing to take the field in a few weeks for their first game, but the fate of fall sports is still unknown. The PIAA’s decision could jeopardize college opportunities for seniors hoping for scholarships based off this 2020 season.
“It’s a big year because, I mean, we need to be able to get film to be able to send to these coaches,” said North Allegheny senior Braden Frank.
Julie Burkart, a mother whose two children are both student athletes in Allentown, organized a “Let our kids play in PA” rally that was held in Harrisburg on Thursday. Hundreds rallied on the steps of the state capitol, calling on the governor to reverse course when it comes to fall sports.
“I think being there on the steps of the capital is somewhat symbolic, and the number of people willing to join me from all over the state is certainly a very good visual and shows the kind of support this issue has,” Burkart said.
PIAA officials and Gov. Tom Wolf’s office have gone back and forth on the issue of playing or postponing fall sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wolf recommended postponing sports until at least January 2021.
Burkart told Channel 11 she wants the governor to retract his recommendation and leave the decision up to the PIAA and local school boards.
“What hard facts support the governor’s recent recommendation that Pre-K through 12 school sports should be postponed until at least January 1, 2021?” she said.
The Pa. Department of Health emphasized that the state isn’t mandating sports be canceled. Rather, it was just a strong recommendation from Wolf.
However, 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.
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Many players told Channel 11 they understand the coronavirus concerns but agree with the safety measures in place and hope they can play this fall.
“I get it. It’s a contact sport, but if kids want to play they are going to do what they can to hopefully not get COVID,” said North Allegheny football player Josh Ruppert.
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