The PIAA says Fall high school sports in Pennsylvania will happen in 2020.
A decision from the PIAA Board of Directors on Friday ends weeks of panic and frustration from schools, athletes, and their parents who worried the season would be canceled due to the state’s pandemic response.
PIAA OKs 2020 Fall High School Sports in Pennsylvania
Per the decision, the official Fall sports season starts on Monday, Aug. 24. That’s when mandatory organized practices can begin in the following sports:
- Girls Tennis
- Cross Country
- Girls Volleyball
- Field Hockey
- Water Polo
That same Monday, heat acclimatization practices can begin for football. Heat acclimatization must take place for 5 consecutive days prior to a team starting its regular practices before Sept. 4. And then 5 complete team practices must be done before a football team can compete in a scrimmage. The earliest a football team can scrimmage is Sept. 3.
Also, a football team must complete 5 team practices after its first scrimmage before it can play in its first game.
The earliest first dates for games in each of the sports is as follows:
- Golf: August 27
- Girls Tennis: August 31
- Cross Country: Sept. 11
- Girls Volleyball: Sept. 11
- Field Hockey: Sept. 11
- Soccer: Sept. 11
- Football: Sept. 11
- Water Polo: Sept. 11
“The Board agrees the decision to compete in athletics should be made locally, allowing for each school entity to decide whether to proceed and which sports to sponsor,” the PIAA says in a release Friday afternoon. “As the health and safety of students is paramount in moving forward with athletics, the Board believes that through each member schools’ adherence to their developed school health and safety plans and the PIAA Return to Competition guidelines, sports can continue.”
#LetThemPlay Influences Decision
In the last two weeks, a #LetThemPlay grassroots social media campaign definitely had an impact on the PIAA’s decision Friday. Athletes and parents urged the PIAA to continue with its plan to organize Fall sports competitions despite the lingering feeling that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf could intervene.
Wolf, a little more than two weeks ago, surprised many when he made a recommendation that all organized sports, not just the PIAA, should not happen until Jan. 1, 2021. Since then, Wolf has tried to downplay his remarks and insists the decision to play Fall sports is up to the PIAA and local school districts.
“The PIAA Board of Directors has heard the thousands of voices of student-athletes, parents, coaches, officials, as well as community leaders that have contacted us,” PIAA says. “We remind those individuals who have strongly advocated for athletics that they must keep strict adherence to school health and safety plans.”
Local Decisions Prevail
Despite the PIAA decision Friday, local school districts can opt for a more cautious schedule, and either delay or cancel all or some of these Fall sports. So far, no Schuylkill League schools have fully canceled their Fall sports seasons.
Earlier this week, North Schuylkill halted activity in one of its Fall sports after a student tested positive for COVID-19.
And fearing liability from hosting voluntary practices and workouts prior to today’s decision, Pottsville Area School District banned all pre-season practices and workouts.
- Pottsville Area Continues Ban on Fall Sports Practices on Campus
- North Schuylkill Halts a Fall Sport After Student Tests Positive for COVID-19
- Wolf Laughs Off Questions on PIAA Fall Sports at Press Conference: “Do What You Want”
- 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