HARRISBURG, Pa. – There is a chance that some high school Fall Sports could be played while others might not be played, according to PIAA Associate Executive Director Melissa Mertz.
Mertz, during an interview with the program Smart Talk on WITF Radio out of Harrisburg Monday, said, in an answer to a listener’s question, that there is a possibility that some Fall Sports could move forward while others may not. Mertz, however, also said it was the PIAA’s goal to play all Fall Sports in the Fall.
“That (playing some sports and not others) is something we have taken into consideration and if we get to that point that we are prepared to do and we’re prepared to handle,” Mertz said on the program, hosted by Scott LaMar. “I would tell you that, ultimately, we would love to see all Fall Sports going here Aug. 24 or Sept. 4, whatever the date may be for that school. But if the direction we receive further down the road from the governor or if there is more emphasis on hey we need to put football on hold and possibly put football in the spring or field hockey, soccer, we will start with cross country, tennis, and golf for the fall, then we will do that. Our approach is, we are going to do everything we can to get seasons in for every sport.”
Mertz also told LaMar that there is the possibility that sports may go forward in some counties with fewer cases while not being played in counties with a higher number of cases.
“I think you might see that,” Mertz said. “We’ve already had some school districts that have already made the decision (not to have fall sports). They are making the decision that is best. They know their community. They know what is happening locally for them and their student population. They’ve made that decision, and we certainly support the schools on doing what is best for their school and their community. But, you are going to see a lot of other areas, in my opinion, that are going to move forward if come Aug. 21 the (PIAA) Board (of Directors) gives the green light. I think you are going to see a majority of schools probably move forward.”
The PIAA Board of Directors is slated to meet Friday, Aug. 21, to make a decision about Fall Sports, and Mertz is expecting a decision that day. The Board had met two weeks ago, Aug. 7, after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf made a recommendation to postpone all sports until at least Jan. 1, 2020. During the Aug. 7 meeting, the PIAA Board of Directors voted to “pause” all mandatory activity for two weeks until Aug. 24 with the hopes of meeting with Governor Wolf to further discuss the return to play. A meeting with members of the Wolf administration, but not the governor himself, took place Aug. 14. During that meeting, it was reiterated to the PIAA that while the governor has made a recommendation not to play high school sports until at least Jan. 1, 2021, the final decisions could be made by individual schools.
According to Mertz, the PIAA will be meeting with its Sports Medicine Committee, which at the end of July gave the organization its ok to proceed with Fall Sports, Monday, Aug. 17, and then will be meeting with the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s PIAA Oversight Committee Tuesday, Aug. 18.
“We have quite a bit on our plate this week to prepare for Friday,” Mertz told LaMar. “But I can tell you Friday will be a big day for us because that is when we will make a final determination.”