York-Adams League votes to require winter sport athletes to wear masks during competition

Abdul Janneh of New Oxford, brings the ball across mid-court while covered by Central York's Judah Tomb during the York-Adams boys' basketball championship, Thursday, February 13, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York-Adams League winter sports are still on track to start next week, but they're going to look very different.

After a Monday vote, the league has decided that winter sport athletes, except swimmers competing in the water, will be required to wear masks during competition, Y-A League executive director Chuck Abbott confirmed Wednesday. The requirement would include basketball players and wrestlers.

Similar decisions have been made by the Mid-Penn Conference and Lancaster-Lebanon League.

Abbott said there was some discussion among member schools regarding how athletes could be exempt from the state's mask mandates during games, but in the end the league members decided to all follow the same plan and wear them at all times.

Northeastern's Cole Wilson, right, and Central Dauphin's Josh Miller wrestle in the 126 pound weight class during PIAA District III, Class 3-A wrestling championships at Spring Grove Area High School in Jackson Township, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Miller would win 9-5 by decision. Dawn J. Sagert photo

However, Abbott did say that athletes can be exempt from the decision if they are able to present their athletic director with a doctor's note stating it is unsafe for them to play their sport with a mask on. That athletic director would then be responsible for notifying the opposing athletic director that a player from their school will not be wearing a mask.

Central York vs Reading in District 3 Class 6-A basketball semifinal, Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

In addition, Abbott said that currently athletes are required to wear a face covering, but the idea of wearing a face shield during basketball only was presented, but at this moment is not allowed. There is no specific type of face mask required.

Abbott said the idea of holding virtual swim meets was briefly discussed previously, but not seriously considered because of concerns about logistical capabilities.

Central York's Camryn Leydig swims the breast stroke leg of the 200 IM, Thursday, December 20, 2018.
John A. Pavoncello photo

PIAA meeting: Y-A League schools are set to begin their winter sports season on Dec. 18 — one week later than originally scheduled — but a number of events on Wednesday have brought the scheduled start of the season into question.

During Wednesday's PIAA board of directors' meeting, the organization made no move to delay the winter sports season, which can still start on Friday, Dec. 11.

State College Area School District superintendent Bob O'Donnell, however, requested a delay of the winter season until Feb. 1. While the meeting was in executive session, reports surfaced that the Pennsylvania Principals Association sent a letter to the PIAA also asking for a delay, but not specifying a date.

The PIAA, however, opted not to delay winter sports.

Also while the meeting was in executive session, Gov. Tom Wolf revealed on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantined at his home. Wolf was expected  to speak on Wednesday afternoon and potentially announce new restrictions that could impact youth sports.

Wolf's press availability was reported to be pushed back until Thursday, but with the governor forced to remain in his home due to his positive COVID test, an in-person press conference will not be possible, which leaves a great deal of uncertainty for administrators and student-athletes preparing for the upcoming campaign.

PIAA changes: During the PIAA meeting, a motion was passed that will allow games where two teams can't agree on whether or not masks will be worn to be called a no contest, just like if a team can't play due to a positive COVID-19 test.

Like the fall season, a motion was approved during the meeting that only district champions will qualify for the PIAA state playoffs this season in basketball and wrestling. Swimming and diving qualifiers were cut in half, from 32 to 16.

Additonally, the PIAA State Wrestling Championship will only feature eight wrestlers in each class and all eight would medal.

Also similar to the fall, a motion was passed to allow schools that have to delay or pause their seasons to schedule games until the date of the state championship in their respective sports.

Once schools reach their required preseason practice total, if teams are forced to miss games for seven days they are required to have two practices before another game. If the team is out for 10 days, three practices are required and if a 14-day break occurs, four practices are necessary before a game.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.