PIAA says spring athletes don’t need masks if outdoors, social distancing

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Spring sports student athletes and coaches don’t need to wear masks when outside as long as they can keep 6 feet apart according to new PIAA guidelines.

According to our partners at TribLive.com, the board met Wednesday and approved the new rules for baseball, softball, track and other spring sports. Preseason practices could start statewide on Monday.

Spring sports were shut down last year because of the pandemic, meaning athletes had no season.

Other rules include:

  • If a baseball pitcher wears a mask, it must be a solid, dark color. Softball pitchers cannot wear optic yellow. Pitchers are encouraged to not lick fingers or blow into their hands, but that’s not a mandate.
  • Umpires are required to wear a face covering behind the plate.
  • Races of 800 meters or longer are considered moderate risk activities, so the PIAA recommends they be “run in alleys or minimally one turn staggers.”
  • Relay runners may wear disposable gloves
  • Lacrosse players are not required to wear a mask during competitions since they already wear a helmet and mouth guard.

How one athletic director feels about new rules

“At home plate, you’ve got a catcher and an umpire, catcher and batter all within six feet of each other. At first base, you have the first baseman until you have a runner on,” said Gateway athletic director Donald Holl.

Holl thinks one solution could be players wearing gaiter-style masks to pull up and down.

“I think everybody is in a place where we are confident after two sports seasons that we can safely manage these things and we are able to play,” Holl said.

Each school district is left to decide how and when to wear masks surrounding sports competitions. As for parents, PIAA officials said limited fans will be allowed at spring sporting events.