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There actually have been a few positive advancements for local sports returning in Pennsylvania.
Last week, a 12-team softball tournament, comprised of Lehigh Valley school teams, held a successful tournament. This despite many people objecting to the games being played and a lack of adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. One team was photographed on the first day in a huddle with no masks anywhere present, social distancing was not always kept on the benches and most coaches and umpires were not wearing masks throughout the tourney.
Despite the detractors, the tournament went ahead as scheduled and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from RCN TV’s and The Morning Call’s Keith Groller, who stated that he felt the kids’ need to play outweighed the potential risks that could come out of participating in the event.
A similar event for baseball, featuring all but two Lehigh Valley schools plus four teams from outside the area, will take place in early August. The event’s organizers and a few local coaches will be on RCN SportsTalk on July 30 to preview this tournament and discuss ways they plan on keeping kids safe.
(As stated previously here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” RCN was first to report the news of this tournament back in April.)
Of course, it remains to be seen what schools themselves will be doing later this summer regarding their reopening plans.
On Friday, the Allentown Diocese announced that all Catholic schools will be opening on time and as scheduled this fall.
Meanwhile, a number of public school districts, including two of the largest schools in the Lehigh Valley, have already announced that their school year will begin with their students only reporting to school two days a week.
Another one of the larger school districts in the Valley – Northampton – announced last Friday that in-school attendance for students this fall will be “optional,” provided they stay in good standing and participate regularly in online courses. If more schools follow suit, it will be an interesting challenge for coaches to conduct daily practices with their students not on the grounds prior to workout times.
For our Delaware Valley viewers, the Philadelphia sports governing body met last week and gave some direction for their upcoming sports year. They declared baseball and softball among those sports that are listed with “moderate risk.” A few sports like tennis and golf were labeled as “less risk,” giving those sports a greater chance of having their season take place in some way, shape or form this fall.
For high school football (which nearly everyone can agree is a “high-risk” sport in terms of potentially contracting the Coronavirus)…the PIAA ruled at a meeting later last week that the season is going ahead as scheduled.
There have been rumblings that Pennsylvania could also move “less risk” sports to the fall and higher-risk sports to the spring, although a decision like that would need to occur very soon in order for all pieces of that puzzle to come together.
Current “fall” sports in the Lehigh Valley like golf, tennis and cross country could very easily conduct their competitions while adhering to current social distancing and safety protocols with minimal adjustments.
The PIAA also stated last Wednesday that it will move ahead with scheduled events regardless of how many schools or sports will or will not be able to participate.
So unless Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf objects (and he very well may), it looks like schools will have at least some scholastic sports activities starting by Labor Day.
We shall see.
I also wanted to alert our RCN customers that TOC President Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk to give an update on the status of his August tournament and, as a local guidance counselor, give his thoughts and suggestions on how we can help our young people adjust to this new normal and on how we can help them transition back to full-time sports activities.
(If you missed the interview, RCN customers can watch the interview in its entirety through RCN On Demand.)
Just one of the many insights Eric told me: even though some areas are still severely limiting the amount of outdoor sports activities, don’t be surprised if some traditional sports tournaments move their games to a different community that has lessened its social distancing restrictions. It’s not uncommon right now in the Lehigh Valley to see some playgrounds completely restricting access yet see another facility fully packed with students playing – both sites a mile apart from each other.
Eric is also a guidance counselor and gave some great insights on how we can help our young student-athletes through this transition, as we try to get back to our “new normal.” Snyder is also a Catasauqua baseball coach and had some great insights on the upcoming high school baseball tournament (that we highlighted above.)
There was also some controversial news elsewhere in the state regarding summer high school basketball that could have ripple effects for sports fans and participants in Eastern Pennsylvania…we’ll have more on that as part of our summer hoops update in next week’s blog here at “The SportsTalk Shop.”