Governor Wolf Supports Cessation of Fall Sports, Says “I’m Just One Person” | Trib HSSN

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Thursday August 13, 2020 | 3:06 p.m.


Gov. Tom Wolf said he was unlikely to change his recommendation to delay youth sports no matter what the PIAA said, but described his role as “a person with an opinion”.

Wolf, speaking at a press conference on Thursday, said he had not read the letter the PIAA administrators sent him earlier in the week. The governor wants interschool and recreational sports for young people to be postponed to at least January 1 to prevent the potential spread of the coronavirus.

PIAA’s letter asked him to reconsider.

“This is my recommendation,” Wolf said. “I also recommended this summer that Pennsylvanians avoid going to the Jersey Shore. I am sorry. This is my recommendation. You do what you want, and the school districts will do what they want. This is my recommendation. It was then and still is.

Wolf didn’t hesitate when asked what information the PIAA might provide to change his mind.

“I’m not sure what they might say that would make me change my perception of what I believe is the right thing to do,” Wolf said. “They have the decision to make it themselves. I recognize that I am only one person. I may be a governor, but I am a person who has an opinion on what we should do here.

This leaves the PIAA with a dilemma with fall sports slated to begin in 10 days. The PIAA had hoped to persuade Wolf to change its recommendation before its board met again on August 21, but the governor’s comments on Thursday made that more unlikely.

The PIAA had already scheduled a meeting with Wolf staff on Friday afternoon. The conference call should not include the governor.

If Wolf’s recommendation does not change, the PIAA could choose to delay the sports until January or move forward without the support of the governor and his administration.

“This is to be determined based on the next week of activity,” PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi said Thursday. “It seems to be changing from day to day. He is the governor. We respect his position. We respect it. We would like his support.

Despite Wolf’s comments, Lombardi said he remained optimistic.

Speaking at a press conference in York with Secretary of State for Health Dr Rachel Levine, Wolf defended his sports recommendation for young people, saying it puts education above athletics .

“We try to do whatever we can to make sure our kids start learning again,” Wolf said. “I don’t see how transporting a population of any age across county lines will help efforts to alleviate this disease and get us back to learning. So let’s (sports) take a break. ”

Levine was asked to clarify the data used to support the closure of youth sports after citing only out-of-state cases on Monday. Many recreational sports leagues competed throughout the spring and summer, and PIAA teams resumed their off-season training in June, but Levine said on Thursday there was little data on the impact. of sports on the spread of covid-19 in Pennsylvania.

“We don’t have a lot of granular data or quantitative data from contact tracing,” she says. “There hasn’t been so much activity. There have been but not as we see in the fall. The kids aren’t back in school or in school sports so I can’t have the data on that before this happens. ”

Levine pointed to college conference decisions to end fall sports and said the Wolf administration’s recommendation was based on “the same data on the contagiousness of the virus (and) the impact on children.

Wolf said he also drew on his experience as a parent of former PIAA athletes, recalling groups of cross country runners during races and spectators gathered near the finish line.

“If I were to set priorities for my family, I think I would put education up there above cross country,” he said.

Wolf’s comments about cross-country could lower hopes that he will support some low-risk sports this fall, if not soccer or football. Lombardi said Thursday: “Our hope is to offer as many sports for as many students as possible. ”

The PIAA sponsors cross-country, football, field hockey, golf, soccer, women’s tennis, women’s volleyball and water polo in the fall.

Asked about allowing low contact sports, Wolf said, “I keep an open mind. I made a recommendation. This is the recommendation I would make to my wife, to both of us, if we made a decision about our daughters. I think that’s how we should think as Pennsylvanians.

Chris Harlan is editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] ou via Twitter.

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