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PIAA needs to keep common sense about fans

Credit the PIAA for last week’s overwhelming decision ­ by 25-5 vote — to go against Gov. Wolf’s recommendation to keep high school sports on the sidelines until Jan. 1.

The PIAA obviously values the high school sports experience and all that goes with it ­ the hard work, the pursuit of dreams, the scholarship opportunities, the achievements and, yes, coping with disappointment ­ more than Wolf, and after gathering sentiment from its thousands of constituents, it sided with the vast majority.

I am not here to debate the dangers of the coronavirus.

We see it every day in the numbers, particularly among our vulnerable population.

But we see very few positive cases among the high school, college and professional sports demographic, and even in the minimal percentage of cases, we see an encouraging recovery rate.

We also see vast inconsistencies on how so many are approaching the virus.

Quite simply, if outdoor events must be limited to 250 people, why in the world was the annual Carlisle Car Show, which drew 20,000 people per day, permitted by the Wolf administration in June?

As it stands now, the PIAA is not allowing any spectators at its events — including parents, which is absurd.

High school football’s opening night is Sept. 11 — less than two weeks away — and let’s hope the PIAA gathers itself and makes the same common-sense decision that it made in forging ahead and green-lighting the start of fall sports.

As written here a month ago, parents deserve to watch their kids play.

It’s nice that the band and cheerleaders can be part of the events. They’ve earned it, too, and certainly add to the atmosphere.

There again, though, there are inconsistencies. We got a call this week that cheerleaders aren’t permitted at the Altoona Football League games.

Parents were told they couldn’t follow their kids around during the Hollidaysburg-Altoona golf match Thursday. Now, come on. What is more socially distanced than golf?

We all need some enjoyment to help us through this. Watching your kid in a golf match, a chip shot away from other parents, shouldn’t be a red flag.

If we’re all supposed to lock ourselves in our homes and the world is shut down indefinitely — even worse than it is — that’s one thing. But everyone is making up the rules every day and though that’s part of the problem, it’s also reality.

Life must go on, even with masks, even without handshakes.

The other morning, a fellow pickleball player at the Hollidaysburg YMCA remarked that earlier this week you could see the football and tennis teams practicing, hear the band playing and Little League tournament games were going on — simultaneously.

It was almost like some level of normalcy was resuming.

As for high school football, who doesn’t think parents aren’t going to gather at their favorite team’s stadium outside the fence? In fact, they’ll probably be packed there shoulder to shoulder because they aren’t allowed to socially distance more safely in the stands.

The best option is for school superintendents and security personnel to handle their own school. Just as the PIAA has left the decision on whether to play a fall season to the local level, so, too, should the guidelines on administrating the crowd.

Superintendents are empowered to manage their districts and they can do that by accommodating their entire contingent, which includes teams, staff, cheerleaders, the band and the families.

If that number adds up to 251, it’s OK. If it swells to 275 because a team has more players or a bigger band than a more rural school, that should be fine, too.

It’s not like tickets will be sold to the public or we’re talking about 5,000 people.

And if once the families are in and the number is only 249, so be it: It doesn’t mean there needs to be a lottery for the remaining ticket.

Schools should be able to exercise common sense.

Barring parents for something as meaningful as the final few opportunities of their kid’s high school sports career will only create more problems than already exist.

Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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