Last Friday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced that several counties were going to be upgraded to the “Green” phase starting this Friday.

If you’re a regular reader of the sports section, you’re probably wondering what exactly does that mean? This is from the FAQ section of last Friday’s release:

Q: Are organized team sports permitted during the Governor’s phased reopening plan?

Organized sports are only permitted in counties in the green phase of the Governor’s phased reopening plan. Organized team sports and events are defined as physical activity directed by adult or youth leaders that involves rules and formal practice and competition. This includes school and club sports as well as youth and adult formal activities. Physical activity conducted as part of summer programming is allowed. Activities and games with little or no physical contact are recommended. Professional sports are not included in the scope of this FAQ.

Expect more direction regarding how youth sports should be conducted in the “Green” phase this week. It’s very likely that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations will be used. In terms of baseball and softball, one might see a plan of using masks, limiting dugout usage, placing the umpire behind the pitcher’s mound among the suggested rules.

Local leagues are starting to plan ahead. Brookville Area Little League was scheduled to meet Tuesday night while the Federation League adult baseball league is meeting Sunday with plans to go through with a 14-game schedule with an eight-team league starting as early as June 7. The New Bethlehem Little League as well is waiting for more guidelines before jumping into heavy planning that would include the Rimersburg Little League as well.

Last week, the PIAA also issued a release “supporting return to play.”

It read:

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“We want kids to be kids and play sports and be representatives of their school and community.”

This was the overwhelming sentiment of the PIAA Board of Directors’ meeting (May 20), that was hosted via Zoom videoconferencing with an audience of over 30 statewide media members. Discussion was held regarding the possibility of the return of play for summer activities on school campuses, acknowledging reopening will only happen in accordance with the Governor’s directives on permissible activities.

PIAA Board member and PIAA District XI Chairman, Robert Hartman, stated, “We have to follow what the Governor says, but many of us on the board are parents and grandparents and in my personal opinion, if student-athletes are allowed to participate as per the guidelines that are set forth, I personally don’t care what the date is.” Previously, the Board issued a statement following the Governor’s directive that no athletic activity could be hosted upon school campuses until the end of the school year.

PIAA Executive Director, Dr. Robert Lombardi, said, “You saw and heard how committed they are to get kids back to doing what they love to do and that’s play sports. That’s why this whole scenario of the last eight weeks has been so gut-wrenching for all of us. This is difficult. I was really happy the board stood up and told people that this is important to us.”

With the Governor’s development of the red; yellow and green phases of opening counties across the Commonwealth, the Board is committed to permitting activities in those areas of the state that may be opened under the Governor’s orders. If permitted, PIAA is no longer holding to a common date of July 1 for out of season activities.

Additional action items by the Board were the passing of qualifiers and brackets for all sports on a second reading basis, except for basketball: the upholding of the Executive Staff’s decisions on four appeals of the competition formula; an adjustment of registration fees for spring sports officials due to the non-printing of rules books; the cancellation of this year’s Officials’ Convention due to COVID-19; a change in the mandatory sit-out period for a flagrant disqualification.

The Board also referred two items to the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for their review, the proposed 13 wrestling weight classes and a modification of sub-varsity game procedures in football. Finally, the elected executive officers for the 2020-21 school year; were announced as President Frank Majikes, District II Chairman; Vice-President Robert Hartman, District XI Chairman; and Treasurer Paul Leonard, District V Chairman.

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