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COLUMN: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s comments could be another mark against West Virginia fall sports


Weeks ago, Virginia pulled the plug on its fall seasons, adding to the list of states that will forego sports until 2021. Days ago, Maryland followed suit. 

While the short-term implications are small for most West Virginia schools after losing these two states, a comment by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday could likely lead to our state’s death knell. At the very least, it’s leading to confusion within the Keystone State. 

After being asked if the PIAA released guidance for parents in stands this season, Wolf’s answer now has folks in his state and, likely, West Virginia scratching their heads. 

“The guidance is we ought to avoid any congregate settings, and that means anything that brings people together is going to help that virus get us,” he said. “We ought to do everything we can to defeat that virus. Anytime we get together for any reason, that’s a problem because that makes it easier for the virus to spread. So the guidance from us, the recommendation, is that we don’t do any sports until January 1.”

It doesn’t bode well when the governor goes further down the road when asked what should have garnered a simple answer, but here we are. Obviously, this could lead to two things: The PIAA canceling fall seasons or seasons played as scheduled and likely cut short whenever some students contract COVID-19. 

We’ve already had schools take proactive measures through our three-phase reopening process, like Preston High foregoing Phase 2 so it could have a three-weeks. We’ve already seen one positive case slightly derail Hampshire football, which returned to action on Tuesday. Grant County halted conditioning for two weeks Monday after a spike in cases. There are plenty of other cases of this around the state, and it won’t take much for one more major shakeup to pull the rug from under our fall seasons. 

A friend, who is the sports editor at a northern-Pennsylvania newspaper, doesn’t think that West Virginia will follow suit, and Gov. Jim Justice made it clear he wants seasons to happen this year, but sometimes, things are out of our hands. Still, as things currently stand, we’re going to be seeing radically different seasons. Even if Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky close the doors on their fall seasons and West Virginia still plays, getting over the logistical nightmare that is sure to follow things just aren’t going to be the same. 

I know it sounds like I’m just spewing doom-and-gloom thoughts here, but it’s getting harder to not be concerned about all of this. Is postponing the fall seasons worth it to finally get over this pandemic? Yeah, that’s the best idea. Do we want to see another round of seniors lose their final seasons? No, we don’t. Absolutely no one wants that, but it seems we’re locked in a roller coaster from hell with no choice of where we go. We can do the things we’re told to – wear masks, stay six feet apart, etc. – but we’ve lost our chance to really put this thing in the ground at this point. 

West Virginia is surprisingly one of the best states to be for COVID-19 prevention – seriously a shocking statistic – but as a country, we have done a horrible job. That’s the biggest issue here, and we’re seeing a wall form around us; Georgia affects the Carolinas which affects Virginia, etc. And let’s not forget that people are still leaving the state to go on vacation, rolling the dice in high-population areas like Myrtle Beach and bringing the virus back here. 

We can sit here now in early August and scream from our couches, “Why should we worry about what Pennsylvania does when we’re ahead of the curve?” It’s a fair argument. A lot of us are doing our jobs while some of us aren’t, either out of spite or because the latest conspiracy says face masks are the government’s way of silently killing us via some crap a guy with nothing better to do right now made up to scare people.

The bottom line is, we’re seeing cases rise around the state. Someone in Preston County just died this week. So we can sit here and scream from our couches that we’re above the fray, but the decision comes down to one man, Clay Marsh. And what he says goes, as we’ve seen from Justice’s actions the last few months. 

Truly, I don’t understand how this thing is still hurting us. How did this virus become such a political issue? How can the largest superpower in the world, a country that touts its doctors and scientists, end up with one of the worst responses to this thing? If sports don’t happen this year, there will be a lot of fingers pointed, but there’s one place those fingers should be redirected: The top. 

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