Skip to comments.GOP lawmakers say Pa. Gov. Wolf is out of bounds in calling for no high school sports until 2021
Posted on 08/06/2020 2:30:52 PM PDT by lightman
After Gov. Tom Wolf recommended schools hold off on sports until 2021, Republican lawmakers characterized the governors decision as out of bounds.
The governor offered his recommendation on high school sports at the end of a news conference Thursday about efforts to increase testing for the coronavirus. The Wolf administration said Thursday afternoon it is a strong recommendation but not an order or mandate. Local school boards could make the final call on sports, the administration said Thursday afternoon.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body of high school sports, said fall sports could proceed but without spectators.
Jason Gottesman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania House Republican caucus, said the governor is off the rails.
After repeatedly saying school reopening decisions should be left to local school districts, after the PIAA paved the way for sports to safely resume, after his own Secretary of Health said earlier this week that guidance for PIAA events would be forthcoming, the governor today issued another unilateral recommendationmade without any advance notice or consultation with the General Assemblythat is devastating for student athletes, parents, and communities, Gottesman said in a statement.
In making his announcement, the governor did not justify why a place like Sullivan County that has five confirmed cases, must be treated the same as Allegheny County or Philadelphia. In fact, he provided no data or justification at all, he added.
State Rep. Rob Kauffman, a Franklin County Republican, said the governors recommendation potentially crushes the dreams of families across Pennsylvania.
Why should their students not be allowed to play football or soccer? Kauffman said on Facebook. What will happen to students in Pennsylvania seeking athletic scholarships losing the opportunity to play one last season?
Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the Democratic governor has repeatedly clashed with Republican lawmakers, who control both chambers of the General Assembly.
Republican lawmakers have criticized many of Wolfs restrictions as overly burdensome and faulted him for not working with the Legislature. Conversely, Wolf has said Republicans have at times pushed to lift coronavirus restrictions in ways that would potentially endanger the public.
Moving the goalposts'
State Rep. Torren Ecker, a Republican representing Adams and Cumberland counties, criticized Wolfs recommendation on delaying sports until the new year. He said sports and extracurricular activities are essential to the lives of high school students.
What a shame for the thousands of high school seniors and their families, Ecker said in a statement.
Keeping people safe is important; however, the governors own rules allow outdoor gatherings every day, Ecker said. I guess the rules are different when it is inside the gates of a high school stadium. This is yet another example of the governors double standard and moving the goalposts, much like what we have seen the past few months.
State Sen. Scott Martin, a Lancaster County Republican, questioned Wolfs decision, along with the timing. Martin said if responsible plans have been established for certain sports, they should be allowed to proceed.
Sadly, Governor Wolf has once again made a pronouncement at the 11th hour and refused to share the underlying data with the public, Martin said in a statement. This is, of course, after he entrusted the PIAA and local districts to develop responsible plans that protect the health of our young athletes something each has been working tirelessly to do.
Wolf is allowing school districts to make their own decisions about offering face-to-face instruction, remote learning, or some combination to start the school year. Ecker called Wolfs choice in that area reasonable and responsible and argued local school districts should get the freedom to make similar decisions on high school sports and extracurricular activities.
Earlier this week, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, and more than 60 Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to the governor asking him to allow parents of high school athletes to attend sporting events. Lawmakers cited several reasons, including the fact that taxpayers support public schools and parents can safely watch games with appropriate safeguards.
On Thursday, Wolf said gatherings for sports - or any activities - increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
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 at Thursdays news conference. And we ought to do anything we can to defeat that virus.
So anytime we get together for any reason, thats a problem because it makes it easier for that virus to spread so the guidance from us, the recommendation is, we dont do any sports until Jan. 1, Wolf said.
The Wolf administration said Thursday afternoon the recommendation applies to individual and team sports, as well as scrimmages and intramural sports. The recommendations do not apply to college or professional sports.
Wolf offered his guidance to hold off on sports until 2021 came at the end of his press conference Thursday morning. He offered his recommendation and then concluded the press conference without taking other questions.
Ecker criticized Wolf for ending the press briefing on that note.
This is yet another example of the governor giving his recommendation but not allowing himself to be held accountable, Ecker said in a statement.
State Rep. Chris Rabb, a Philadelphia Democrat, offered his support for the governors recommendation to ensure the safety of students.
Good! Postpone them indefinitely! Rabb said on Twitter, adding, I want ALL student-athletes safe, rich and poor alike!
Good! Postpone them indefinitely!
My own 14 y/o #athlete isnt thrilled about my public (& parental) stance, but I want ALL student-athletes safe, rich & poor alike! #schoolsports #COVID19 https://t.co/QcdeHDho8h Rep. Chris Rabb (@RepRabb) August 6, 2020
Impact on public opinion?
Despite having to make tough calls on closing businesses and placing restrictions on normal activities to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the governor has managed to maintain strong public support.
A Franklin & Marshall poll found 55 percent of Pennsylvania residents have a favorable opinion of Wolfs leadership, although most Republicans didnt give the governor high marks. A Fox News poll in July found 63 percent of Pennsylvania voters approve of Wolfs performance.
While many voters have stuck with Wolf, the recommendation to hold off on high school sports could weaken his support, said Christopher Borick, a political analyst at Muhlenberg College.
High school sports, especially high school football, are an enormous part of the culture in Pennsylvania in a lot of communities. The idea youd have a fall without that happening would certainly be a big hit for a lot of folks, Borick said. I wouldnt be surprised if the governor gets a lot of push back on that and he might on the margin lose some folks that have been with them.
At the same time, Wolfs support has held steady even after shutting down many businesses and imposing limits on bars and restaurants. So Borick said its conceivable that many will understand the governors choice.
Up to this date, most of the evidence shows Pennsylvanians have continued to largely have confidence and support his actions, that theyre called for, Borick said. Maybe on this one, youll see the same type of reaction where after people have time to think and get past the emotion, they understand the call."
But as Borick said, This is a really emotional one.
PSFCA Director Garry Cathell says spring football will be discussed if PIAA cancels fall sports
Children need exercise
The governors recommendation likely wont do much to improve relations with Republicans. State Rep. Jason Ortitay, a Republican who represents part of Allegheny and Washington counties, denounced Wolfs statement.
Just like Lucy in Peanuts, Gov. Tom Wolf continues to move the football on Pennsylvania residents with his actions that have no data to back them up, Ortitiay said in a statement. This morning, he recommended no high school sports until Jan. 1, 2021, and then took no follow-up questions. For months, student athletes have been practicing and playing club and youth sports like soccer, baseball and basketball without incident.
Ortitay added, At what point does stopping the spread become worse than the actual virus? Children need exercise. It is good for their mental health.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, more than 116,000 people in Pennsylvania have contracted the coronavirus and nearly 7,300 deaths have been tied to COVID-19, according to the state Department of Health.
This week, some high school conferences announced they were delaying the start of the fall sports seasons. The Mid-Penn Conference said it would delay the fall season until at least Sept. 4, effectively eliminating most non-conference games. The Lancaster-Lebanon league also pushed back the first games into September.
At the college level, some conferences have postponed sports in the fall. The Ivy League and Atlantic 10 conferences said last month they are suspending fall sports. The Centennial Conference, which includes several Pennsylvania colleges, also suspended its fall sports schedule.
Schools across the state are finalizing their plans to begin classes later this month. Many in central Pennsylvania are planning for in-person instruction. Some districts, including Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Allentown, will begin the school year with remote instruction.
A number of schools are also proceeding with hybrid plans, where students would have certain days of face-to-face instruction and remote learning on other days.
Ecker and other lawmakers argue extracurricular activities provide a critical component of the high school educational experience.
Extracurricular activities, including sports, are intricate to students lives, Ecker said in a statement. High school sports programs increase the health and wellness of student athletes, teach them leadership skills, and help improve academic success. This will all be lost under Gov. Wolfs unilateral recommendation to not allow fall sports to be played.
Please ping me with articles of interest.
FReepmail me to be added to the list.
I bet if every high school football player in the state would kneel for the National Anthem, Wolf would let them play.
NOW is the "point"
My Pennsylvania county has experienced a >50% increase in opiod overdose deaths in the first seven months of this year as compared with 2019.
If he’s “out of bounds” then do the work and start a recall.
Good grief, conservatives are lame - talk only.
Hey it’s in their constitution...Amendment10...statists/murderers rights.
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what your country can do to you...right Berrie “charter of negative liberties” Obozo?
You can fool some of the sheeple some of the time and some of the sheeple all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, foo.
No HS football in western Pennsylvania?
That’s a recipe for civil insurrection!
But the legislature is shackled by the PA Supreme Court, giving Gov Wolf all the unilateral, unchecked power he can hope for.
I’m all for it. Maybe if they didn’t have to spend millions of dollars on stadiums, they could afford books.
That’s not sarcasm. It’s very much not sarcasm.
Of course they want the pandemic paranoia to last until the election.
But not JUST until the election.
They have found a way to control vast populations and dictate how the live.
They will not let it go easily
This POS Governor is destroying the dreams of hundreds of thousands of HS kids and their families.
The same POS that marches w 1000’s, “recommends” kids who virtually have no serious expression to this disease, (with few exceptions) NO HS sports?!
This guy could go drop dead.
I almost never voted a straight ticket. Always voted the man/woman. This clown and almost every other progressive has changed my attitude on that these last few months!!!
I don’t know- it’s like voting Adolf Hitler vs. Neville Chamberlain. You know one’s evil, but the alternative is a spineless pansy.
Good for you, you’re all for it.
You don’t have a kid dreaming of a 1000 pt HS basketball career.
THIS SUCKS, and the worst part of it all, IS THAT IT IS ALL POLITICS!
F every last scumbag demoRAT!!!
Haven’t heard one word of how many kids have this disease in any serious manor as a % compared to asymptomatic.
Putzker did the same in Illinois - same with Charlie Parker in Massachucetts. DeWiner in Ohio will probably follow.
What did the he-bitch say?
It was busy looking for Dick.
‘Im all for it.’
Wolf and cousin it would be drawn and quartered in precious eras for their ineptitude.
No sports and you take away the sole reason for a lot of kids going to school. That will dry up the college ranks and finally professional sports.
All that this will accomplish is creating a new generation of criminals and decaying facilities. The alternative is just as scary. They’ll all get hired by the government to rule over us and use the facilities as prisons for dissenters.
“It was busy looking for Dick.”
My first glass of wine, is now all over my desk. I’m still laughing!
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.