HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — High school football is king in every corner of the commonwealth, although Governor Wolf may have sacked it with a passing comment at the end of an unrelated press conference Thursday morning.
“The guidance from us — the recommendation — is that we don’t do any sports until January first,” Wolf said.
It was a blind side hit.
“What is a recommendation? What are guidelines? What are mandates? And what are orders?,” wondered an agitated Rep. Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton).
Late Thursday afternoon, the governor released a clarifying statement. He is “strongly recommending” but not “ordering or mandating” the cancellation of fall sports from youth through high school.
His guidance does not apply to college or pro sports. Each district can decide the fate of its sports programs. It’s not, Wolf insisted, that he dislikes sports but rather he dislikes the virus.
“The guidance is that we avoid any congregate settings,” he said in his morning press conference. “And that means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us. And we ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus. So anytime we get together for any reason, that’s a problem.”
The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the state’s governing body for high school sports, will meet Friday afternoon to discuss what comes next.
Topper fears, however, that Wolf is crushing the dreams of student athletes and their families.
“Parents can’t come watch their kids play in their senior year in a football stadium? It just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Topper, a member of the House Education Committee, reiterated that districts can decide for themselves whether the games will go on and insists the governor is tossing a political football.
“What is the role of our government?” Topper asks. “Are we really gonna get so far into people’s lives that we can tell them where they can go, when they can go there, and what they can do when they get there? I think this is the wrong way to go. I think it’s an exceptionally heavy-handed way to govern.”
The governor’s statement said athletes can continue conditioning, drills, and other training activities on an individual basis. He reminded that there are gathering limits, however, no more than 25 people may gather indoors and 250 outdoors.
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