PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — COVID-19 is crushing championship dreams. One of the largest conferences in local high school sports is canceling competition, impacting thousands of athletes.
Last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf suggested that no high school sports be played until at least January of 2021. The Philadelphia Public League has decided to heed that advice, putting sports on hold due to the coronavirus.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the School District of Philadelphia says:
“If guidelines released by the Governor’s office change, or are updated in a way that would allow programming to resume, we reserve the right to revisit our stance and provide further guidance on a safe return to play,” according to a statement from the School District of Philadelphia. “Our focus in the immediate future will be on developing a robust virtual program this fall to engage our student-athletes in a meaningful way as it pertains to NCAA Eligibility, post-secondary readiness, and health and wellness programming, in addition to creating a plan to provide individualized skill-building and fitness workouts when permitted to resume safely.”
That means football and soccer are among the sports postponed. Plus, winter sports like basketball and track and field will likely be affected.
Mastery Charter Athletic Director John Davidson says it was the correct move and now they must push forward.
“I’m glad that we’ve come to a decision. I think that was a piece that was kind of concerning for us as coaches and athletic directors — this ambiguous grey that we were in for the last month or so of not knowing. But now that we know and the decision has been made, now we can plan accordingly,” Davidson said.
Northeast High School head football Eric Clark reiterated that it was also the correct decision. But he now worries about keeping his student-athletes safe during a time they would have been involved in extra-curricular activities.
“With the decision that’s being made, I think we support it but we also would like to have something in place to keep our young men and young women off the streets. So I’m looking forward to the next phase. Is that allowing us to practice outdoors in small groups? If it’s 10 to 15, or up to 20 or less. We have to do something to keep our young men and women busy,” Clark said.
Martin Luther King High School Athletic Director Regina Johnson says that her students realize why this choice was made.
“They are disappointed but at the same time they understand the athletic directors, the principals are coming from a place of – that our main focus is to make sure that our students are safe and healthy,” Johnson said.
This decision also has a direct effect on students who take part in Unified Sports through the Special Olympics.
Special Olympics Pennsylvania released a statement Monday.
“Special Olympics Pennsylvania follows the decisions made by the school districts and the PIAA. When a large school district like Philadelphia suspends sports for a lengthy period of time, Unified Champion Schools abide by the district’s policy, even if the PIAA decides to move forward.”