PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Fuming Pennsylvania high school athletic directors will meet Friday after Gov. Tom Wolf recommended that no high school sports be played in the state until next year.
“We’re a football family here,” Anthony Paoletti, a father, said.
The passion for the sport goes back generations for Paoletti and his family.
“My uncles, my dad. I had uncles that played for University of Akron in 1930,” he said.
His son Joey, a rising senior at Marple Newtown High School in Newtown Square, is the team’s quarterback.
“Here are all the pictures all lined up. It’s freshman year, sophomore year,” Joey Paoletti said.
But now with this announcement from Wolf, fall sports could be sidelined.
“The guidance is that we ought to avoid any congregate settings. And that means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us,” Wolf said. “And we ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus. So any time we get together for any reason, that’s a problem, because it makes it easier for that virus to spread. So the guidance from us, recommendation, is that we don’t do any sports until January first.”
Philadelphia’s health commissioner said he agrees with the governor.
“I think it’s a wise move. There’s a risk in contact sports in particular that children are going to be in close contact with each other, spreading the virus,” Dr. Thomas Farley said. “You have different teams coming from different communities, there’s more mixing, more opportunities of spread. So it’s a risk that I don’t think is worthwhile taking right now.”
“It’s heartbreaking. You know, I’ve been trying to play,” Joey Paoletti said. “Senior year, my best friends. We’ve been hoping and praying. We want to play so bad.”
The final decision will be made by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. The PIAA on Thursday released a statement saying, in part, they were “tremendously disappointed” in the governor’s comments.
Even so, Anthony Paoletti believes they’ll follow the governor’s suggestion.
“I don’t expect to have a fall season this year,” he said. “Hopefully, we can have a spring season.”
But even if the PIAA allows athletes on the field, there won’t be anyone allowed in the stands.
If there is a season, coaches will have to wear masks, teams won’t be able to enter school buildings and water bottles and gear will even be socially distanced.
The Paoletti family believes it can be done safely so students can play ball, scouts can spot talent and offer college scholarships and seniors will be able to have a traditional graduating year experience.
“We’ve been hoping for this for the past four years, ever since we were freshman and it’s a shame to see it like this,” Joey Paoletti said.
“We want to play now. We want to play now,” Anthony Paoletti said.
The PIAA Board of Directors says they’re meeting Friday and will make the final decision about fall sports then.