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EDITORIAL: York-Adams League football fans must prepare to roll with punches this fall

York Dispatch editorial board
  • The York-Adams League football season starts Friday night.
  • At this point, it is uncertain if fans will be allowed in the stands.
  • The decision on allowing fans is being battled in courtrooms and legislative chambers.
Central York's Ian McNaughton (52) pursues West York's Joseph DeJesus during season-opening football action at West York on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019. The 2020 season is set to open on Friday night.

Friday night, a York-Adams League football season unlike any other is set to start.

Our recommendation to local fans is this: Roll with the punches.

The 2020 campaign will not be normal in any fashion. The coronavirus has seen to that. The only constant will be constant change.

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That especially seems to be the case when it comes to the latest hot-button issue in the state: Should fans, especially parents, be allowed to attend the games. The outlook on that issue seems to change by the minute. Now, the saga has moved from PIAA board room and the governor’s office to federal courtrooms and legislative chambers.

Wolf being defied: Just Monday, a federal judge ruled that key components of Gov. Tom Wolf’s mitigation strategy are “unconstitutional.” That could pave the way to loosen Wolf’s 250-person limit on outdoor gatherings, which could, in turn, lead to some fans at games. The Wolf administration, however, will appeal and seek a stay to temporarily block the decision.

UPDATE: Wolf's emergency orders unconstitutional, federal judge rules

Wolf is also being defied in the state Legislature. A bill has been overwhelmingly passed by both Pennsylvania chambers that would allow local school districts the authority to decide if spectators are allowed at sporting events. Wolf has promised to veto the bill, but it would appear that the Legislature has the votes to override his veto.

Wolf predicts sports veto will survive; Y-A officials pause for politics

Schools in limbo: All this political and legal maneuvering leaves the schools in limbo about how to proceed. Last week, the PIAA recommended that the schools follow Wolf’s 250-person outdoor mandate. That would leave precious little, if any, room for fans. Monday, however, after the federal judge’s ruling, the PIAA said it would address the judge’s ruling at its meeting on Wednesday, which would seem to open the door to a reversal of its stance.

Last weekend, however, several western Pennsylvania schools decided on their own to exceed Wolf’s limit at season-opening games, using some rather creative logic. One official said each set of stands constituted a separate outdoor facility, as did the field and the press box, which meant that up to 1,000 folks could be in the stadium and still adhere to Wolf’s mandate.

Some Pa. schools aren't waiting for state decision; they're allowing fans at football games

Much uncertainty: How this plays out locally is yet to be determined. The York-Adams League scheduled a vote on the issue last Friday, but that vote was canceled after the Legislature passed its bill.

At this point, it’s possible the decision on allowing fans to local games may not be made until nearly the last minute.

No packed stadiums: One thing seems relatively certain. Even if fans are ultimately allowed to attend the games, the stadiums will not — and should not — be packed elbow to elbow. The schools should make sure social-distancing protocols are followed and that masks are worn by everyone.

Attendance should be very limited. In addition to the players, coaches, officials and trainers, parents should get the top priority. After that would come bands, cheerleaders and media. Everyone else should stay home and watch the livestreams that are being planned by practically every school district.

Make adjustments: That’s not what many people want to hear. They want to be part of the communal Friday night football experience. We understand that.

Still, we're in the middle of a pandemic. COVID-19 is a real and present threat. Some accommodations have to be made.

Adjusting to a fall football season of limited fans is part of that accommodation.

Just be happy that there is a season at all. Just a month ago, that seemed unlikely.