HARRISBURG >> We’ve been stumbling around in the dark for months now, looking for some sort of guidance. There’s been little to be found.
We want answers about this coronavirus pandemic and no one at the top seems to have them.
We want to go out and play and are told we can’t.
Frustration is challenging boredom as America’s new pasttime.
Athletes and coaches across the Commonwealth are awaiting word on when they can return to the field, and how, and there are no instructions included with this game.
About 50 athletic directors from across Pennsylvania gathered on Zoom on May 29 hoping to get some direction from PIAA chief operating officer Mark Byers.
“We need help navigating this,” one athletic director said.
They got none.
The PIAA is waiting for answers from state officials, who are waiting on word from health experts, who — painfully, we’ve come to realize — don’t have the answers, either.
They’re still trying to figure out this COVID-19 thing themselves, the way NFL defensive coordinators are still trying to figure out Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.
The PIAA is expecting Gov. Tom Wolf’s team to deliver guidelines next week, but what form that will take, and how precise that will be in dealing with the issues that athletic directors and coaches face, remains an open question.
The governor’s report is unlikely to quell the myriad questions we have. That will fall on the lap of the PIAA. It will be up to the state’s high school governing body to digest the report and produce something resembling a playbook.
That, too, may be shy a few pages. There are sure to be more issues than there are solutions. This COVID thing is turning out to be the ultimate sports challenge.
By this time next week a large swath of the northern part of the state will be in the green zone, the rest in yellow. But what exactly that means to high school sports remains a mystery.
“We hope that in those areas in the green settings, that they would have the ability to return to some sort of activity at the school,” Byers said.
He’s just not sure what that will mean, other than maintaining some sort of social distancing on the field and off. How that applies to blocking and tackling drills is anybody’s guess.
How will athletes be able to train? How will coaches be able to prepare their teams? How can we possibly envision football being played at the high school level come Labor Day? Again, more questions than answers, and that might not change for a long time.
The PIAA Board of Control expressed earlier this month that it wants to see athletes return to the field as soon as they can, even if that means those in certain parts of the state get a jump over others.
Competitive advantage at this point appears to be a microscopic issue compared to gigantic concerns, such as how to play safely.
“We can only control what we can control,” Byers said, “and right now unfortunately (a lot of) this is outside of our control.
“I wish I had a better answer. (We like) to look at things in black and white, and there’s a whole lot of gray area in this.”
We want to know how and when, but right now the shelves are empty in the answers aisle.
“I feel that same frustration (as others),” Byers said. “We all like to know exactly what’s going on, (but) this is outside of everyone’s control.”