It was the mic drop heard around Pennsylvania on Thursday.
At a press conference to discuss, what else but the coronavirus pandemic, someone in the press asked Gov. Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine what they thought of the idea of high school sports starting in the Fall.
Levine passed the mic to Wolf like a hot potato. Wolf ripped off his face mask and provided the answer that’s infuriated millions of Pennsylvanians.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Recommends No Sports Until Jan. 1, 2021
The question from the media, to Levine, was this: “Do you have any update on the PIAA guidance with allowing parents in the stands?”
That question was raised because when it last released a statement, the PIAA said Fall high school sports would go on as planned. But, bowing to the Wolf administration’s guidance on group gatherings, the PIAA said fans — including parents — would not be allowed to watch from the stands or sidelines.
But it doesn’t seem like fans in the stands is going to be an issue, unless fans are interested in watching nothing.
Before gathering her belongings from the podium, Levine said, “Governor, would you like to comment on that?”
That’s when Wolf uncovered his mouth and delivered perhaps his most wishy-washy and passive aggressive statement throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The guidance is that we ought to avoid any congregate settings,” Wolf said, clearly lying or showing zero knowledge of his own guidance. “And that means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us.”
He added, specific to the question, “The guidance from us, the recommendation is that we don’t do any sports until January 1st.”
Of course, as has been consistent throughout the pandemic, Wolf provides zero context to this statement. He ran out of the press briefing so quickly that the press gathered had no chance to ask a follow-up.
Later in the day, Wolf issued a statement on his website to clarify his hurried remarks. It says:
The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Department of Education today jointly recommended that Pre-K–12 school and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1, 2021, to protect children and teens from COVID-19.
The administration is providing this strong recommendation and not an order or mandate. As with deciding whether students should return to in-person classes, remote learning or a blend of the two this fall, school administrators and locally elected school boards should make decisions on sports.
Why January 1? No one knows. And we’re likely to never know the answer unless Wolf and Levine can craft a response in reaction to the public outcry since the Governor dropped this bomb on everyone Thursday.
Remember, the Wolf administration failed to supply any data to prove that restaurants and bars were spreading the virus to cause an apparent uptick in case totals recently. But that didn’t stop them from ordering bars to close their doors and restaurants to limit indoor capacity to just 25%.
PIAA Backed Into a Corner
Wolf’s answer gave the PIAA a major problem. It was meeting on Thursday to discuss its plan to move forward with the Fall high school sports season. In fact, heat acclimatization practices for football are scheduled to start on Monday.
The PIAA issued a statement later Thursday to say it was convening an emergency meeting on Friday to contemplate the Governor’s “recommendation” from Thursday.
Locally, members of the Schuylkill League voted 14-4 to move forward, as scheduled, with the Fall sports season.
Now, we’ll all wait and see what the PIAA decides on Friday regarding the highly-anticipated Fall sports season. If the PIAA still decides to go forward with the season, it’s still possible that Wolf and Levine could issue an executive order to ban all sports until the new year.
“No Sports” Despite Sports Happening ALL SUMMER
Wolf’s recommendation on Thursday shows just how out of touch he is with reality in Pennsylvania.
His “recommendation” goes far beyond just high school sports in the Fall. When he says “all sports” he means ALL sports, even the sports that have been happening all summer, ever since counties started moving into the Green phase of his coronavirus reopening plan.
Wolf’s statement on Thursday detailed his recommendation, which reads like a first draft of an executive order. Here’s what Wolf says should be paused until Jan. 1, 2021 (inexplicably):
- Team and individual, school and non-school recreational youth sports
- Competitions, intramural play and scrimmages
Now, Wolf either isn’t aware or doesn’t care that youth sports and club or travel sports have been happening all over Pennsylvania practically all summer. And there have been zero reports of any outbreaks among children participating in those activities. Parents and spectators have been allowed at those events, too, even if in limited numbers in some cases.
Here’s what Wolf doesn’t put under his “recommendations” issued Thursday:
- Conditioning, drills and other training activities on an individual basis
- Collegiate and professional sports
- Gatherings of 25 people indoors and 250 outdoors
Here’s video of today’s answer and mic drop from Wolf, courtesy of WPMT-TV:
- Wolf Passing Buck of Responsibility on High School Sports to Local Officials
- Schuylkill League Votes 14-4 to Move Forward with Fall High School Sports
- Wolf Now in Threat Mode Over Face Masks
- READER POLL: Is Tom Wolf Doing a Good Job Managing the Coronavirus Pandemic in Pennsylvania?