PIAA relaxes preseason practice rule, anticipates restarting sports Jan. 4 | Trib HSSN

Eufemia Didonato

By: Chris Harlan Tuesday, December 22, 2020 | 5:29 PM Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review The Mars girls basketball team huddles in an empty gymnasium at the start of its game against North Catholic on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Cranberry. Help has arrived for high school teams that fell behind […]


Tuesday, December 22, 2020 | 5:29 PM

Help has arrived for high school teams that fell behind schedule on their preseason practices.

PIAA rules require 15 preseason workouts before starting competition, but the board on Tuesday cut that number to 10. As a result, many athletes will begin their winter seasons days sooner than expected, assuming the governor lets sports resume early next month.

Currently, winter sports are “paused” until Jan. 4 under an order from Gov. Tom Wolf to limit coronavirus spread, so the PIAA board met online Tuesday to approve plans for next month. PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi reiterated that the PIAA will take Wolf and his administration “at their word.”

“I think they used their best judgment to come up with that date,” Lombardi said. “We’re going to work off of that date as an anchor.”

The PIAA board meets again Jan. 6. Lombardi said they’ll make changes then, if needed.

“If we need to adjust, we will,” he said. “We’re hopeful that it starts (Jan. 4) because it gives schools the most optimum number of days to possibly get a winter schedule in without negatively impacting spring.”

Following the shutdown, all PIAA teams will be required to complete at least four practices. Those practices must be traditional workouts and not scrimmages, Lombardi said.

If sports resume Jan. 4, the first games or scrimmages would be Friday, Jan. 8.

Teams that didn’t complete at least 10 practices before the shutdown must reach that total now. For example, a team that held two practices before the shutdown needs eight additional workouts now.

Teams that completed at least 10 workouts before the shutdown need only the minimum four now.

Lombardi said the PIAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee concluded that cutting the requirement to 10 preseason practices “would not compromise the health and safety” of athletes.

“The overwhelming support there was: ‘There’s no research that indicates 10 days is better than 15, or 15 is better than X,” Lombardi said. “Because of that, they supported this typed of tiered return to play.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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