It was a relatively uneventful PIAA Board of Directors meeting Wednesday, with the board approving the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s return to competition for the spring sports season, as well as sharing some good news about spectator attendance for the state championships at the Giant Center in Hershey.
The plan for spring sports is essentially the same rules as the fall sports season. Maintain safe social distancing when possible, especially when not on the competition field or in the case of volleyball, the court as well as being sure masks are worn when not actively participating in competition.
As far as mask wearing, the PIAA will continue to follow all guidelines set forth by the Department of Health and CDC.
With Gov. Tom Wolf increasing the maximum capacity for indoor venues to 15% means there could be the opportunity for more fans at events moving forward. The increase in capacity will also include personnel working at the Giant Center, such as security and essential workers, as well as PIAA staff that will be on hand for wrestling and basketball championships.
“We learned we have a lot of challenges, there are a lot of logistics,” PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi said of the ability to increase the number of spectators. “I would say it is traffic flow, entry. We have issues we are working through.”
Wolf’s announcement about the increase in indoor venue attendance came on the same day after PIAA representatives had a site visit at the Giant Center.
Another positive for the wrestlers who make it to Hershey is they will see an increase in tickets available to them. Each qualifier will receive six tickets rather than the previously announced four.
With the PIAA in championship mode for its winter sports seasons, there was discussion about whether spring sports championship tournaments will be champions only, or if more teams will be permitted to qualify. Lombardi said the organization is in a wait-and-see approach and hopes to have more information in April.
As was the case for the football championships, in basketball the team listed on the top of the bracket is the designated home team. That team has the right to host games at its facility. However, if the facility is small and can only hold, for example, 50 people, the PIAA reserves the right to move the game to a larger venue.
“We would move it to a close proximity to their school if their school can’t accommodate for some fans to get in,” Lombardi said. “We want to get moms and dads in to see their children play.”
Currently, state playoffs for spring sports project single games as opposed to doubleheaders at a site.
Steve Bennett is a sports writer at The Citizens’ Voice. He began his career as a full-time writer in 1997. He has received a first-place award for three consecutive years from the Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of high school football. Bennett is a graduate of Bishop O’Reilly High School and received his college degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570 821-2062 and @CVSteveBennett on Twitter.