We’re still a week away from the next PIAA meeting when the organization is expected to make a determination on Fall sports.
Will they happen or not?
Until then, no one seems sure how to react to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s “recommendation” that no organized sports activities happen until Jan. 1, 2021.
That’s probably because, until now, Wolf hasn’t hesitated to not just opine on topics related to the coronavirus pandemic but issue executive orders and mandates restricting Pennsylvanians’ activities.
Wolf Laughs Off Questions About PIAA Fall Sports
And at a press conference on Thursday, Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine laughed off or shrugged their shoulders on question after question about the Governor’s recent recommendation on Fall sports.
Since that “recommendation” was made, the PIAA has waffled on whether or not to host Fall sports activities for the upcoming school year. At first, PIAA said it was moving forward with its plans. Then it backed off when the Governor made that fateful recommendation.
And last week, PIAA said it wanted to take a 2-week pause on all mandated Fall sports practices to attempt to open a line of communication with Wolf on how it could safely proceed.
The organization even sent a letter to the Governor’s office earlier this week seeking that conversation.
But based on his responses to questions about that letter at Thursday’s press conference, Wolf didn’t read it and he likely won’t read it. And even if he does, he seems like he’s dug in deep on his “recommendation” and won’t budge.
“I think I did. I haven’t seen it,” Wolf said of the letter PIAA sent to the Governor’s office earlier this week.
PIAA hopes it can change Wolf’s mind on his oddly-timed recommendation. Consider that until this point in Pennsylvania’s pandemic response, Wolf hasn’t hesitated to issue orders and mandates. He kept people at home and closed businesses for months. Wolf’s initiated restrictions on businesses after he allowed them to reopen.
“You Do What You Want.”
So, Wolf’s recommendation two weeks ago came as a surprise but only left more questions with the public and PIAA. It seems everyone is worried that if they do what they want, he’ll react with another of these orders or mandates. On Thursday, he didn’t say he wouldn’t.
“What I did was give a recommendation. I’m a parent. My kids went to school. My kids were PIAA athletes. And this is my recommendation,” Wolf said.
He then giggled to himself and said, “I also recommended this summer that Pennsylvanians avoid going to the Jersey shore. I’m sorry. That’s my recommendation. You do what you want. School districts are going to do what they want. This is my recommendation. It was then. It still is. I keep an open mind. That was my recommendation.”
Wait. Did Wolf actually say, “Do what you want”? Yes.
But it seems no one really believes him when he says that.
Just this week, we saw Pottsville Area School District officials hem and haw on the topic of Fall sports. The school even temporarily banned any voluntary team practices and workouts on its campus until it hears something more definitive from the PIAA and Pennsylvania Dept. of Education on the definition of voluntary and its liability in hosting these events.
At a special meeting of its school board, no one at Pottsville Area felt comfortable making a decision on Fall sports. And it was clear no one knew how to react to Wolf’s recommendation on them.
Can PIAA Change Wolf’s Mind? Nope.
A reporter then asked Wolf: “What could (PIAA) present to you that might change that recommendation?”
As the reporter asked this question, Wolf chuckled that it was even being asked. Behind him, Levine shook her head in apparent disbelief that it was even being asked or to suggest the administration wasn’t going to listen to anything.
“I’m not sure what they could say that would make me change my sense of what I believe is the right thing to do. They have a decision to make on their own. I recognize that I am just one person. I am the Governor but I am just one person that has an opinion on what we ought to do here,” Wolf said.
Do Data or Science Suggest Sports are Dangerous? Nope.
Even though Wolf and Levine say they’re making decisions based on “data” and “science” throughout Pennsylvania’s pandemic response, recent orders and recommendations have been short on each.
The administration still hasn’t shown any data that led to the recent restrictions on bars and restaurants, despite getting peppered from WHP-TV on the subject.
Same goes for Fall sports. And Wolf admitted his recommendation is all about his feels.
Read that answer to the question: “I’m not sure what they could say that would make me change my sense of what I believe is the right thing to do.”
Senses and beliefs aren’t data and science. Those are opinions not based in anything factual. Just a hunch he has, really.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to get our kids back to learning. And I don’t see how transporting whatever age back and forth across county borders is going to help in the effort to mitigate this disease and get us back to learning. So, let’s put that on pause. The focus should be on learning. Anything that happens to interfere with that, I think we should be careful,” Wolf said Thursday.
Levine backed up the Governor with no data to support the recommendation, especially the random date he chose for when sports may possibly resume.
She said, “We don’t have a lot of granular data or quantitative data from the contact tracing. There hasn’t been that much activity. There’s been some but not like we’d see in the Fall.”
Full Press Conference
Watch Thursday’s press conference. Move ahead to about the 33-minute mark to see Wolf’s responses on PIAA Fall sports:
- Pottsville Area Temporarily Bans Voluntary Sports Practices and Workouts on Campus
- These 4 Schuylkill League Schools Voted Against Starting Fall High School Sports On Time
- PIAA Issues 2 Week Pause on Mandated Fall Sports Activities, Wants Conversation with Wolf
- Schuylkill League Votes 14-4 to Move Forward with Fall High School Sports
- Wolf Passing Buck of Responsibility on High School Sports to Local Officials
- PIAA Moving Forward with Fall Sports – But NO FANS