No Fall Football for Virginia Public High Schools; PA Full Steam Ahead

Virginia and Pennsylvania have made opposite decisions regarding their high school fall sports seasons. Virginia public schools, governed under the Virginia High School League (VHSL), has decided to cancel or postpone many of its fall sports, while Pennsylvania, governed under the PIAA, has announced that it intends to hold all fall sports as planned.

VISAA, which governs private and independent high school athletics in Virginia, has not yet made an announcement about its plan for fall athletics.

In its announcement, the VHSL said that it is currently looking at three different plans to hold sports:

“Low Risk” sports allowed to occur, which only includes cross country and golf, while all other sports, which means field hockey, football, volleyball, and cheer, are canceled.
“High-risk” fall and “moderate-risk” spring sports switch seasons, which would allow Track & Field, Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Softball to occur in the fall, with the Lacrosse season being canceled or played with the fall sports.
Leaving all sports under their current alignments but changing the dates:

  • Season 1 (Winter) December 14 – February 20
    (First Contest Date – December 28)
  • Season 2 (Fall) February 15 – May 1 (First Contest Date – March 1)
  • Season 3 (Spring) April 12 – June 26 (First Contest Date – April 26)

Regardless of the plan chosen, football, volleyball, field hockey, and cheer won’t be happening this fall for high schools in Virginia.

In contrast, during a recent board meeting, Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association executive director Dr. Robert Lombardi said, “It was the consensus of the committee for us to get as many activities of sports in starting with the fall and heat acclimatization starting on Aug. 10. We are trying to hold, serve and stay the course based on any other information we received.”

With this decision, the PIAA will allow all fall sports to commence as previously planned, with some new considerations due to the coronavirus. The new considerations will be determined on a sport-by-sport basis during the next Board of Directors meeting, scheduled for July 29. Under the PIAA, fall sports include:

  • Football
  • Golf
  • Volleyball (girls only)
  • Tennis (girls only)
  • Soccer
  • Water polo
  • Cross country

In both states, swimming and diving are currently held during the winter season, while neither the VHSL nor the VISAA sponsor water polo.

The different decisions come in spite of the fact that both states have seen recent spikes in the number of coronavirus cases, following a trend seen across the country. As of July 16, Virginia has approximately 74,000 cases of the virus, with just over 1,000 cases diagnosed, while Pennsylvania has approximately 102,000 cases with just under 1,000 new cases. The majority of Pennsylvania’s new coronavirus cases have come from a spike in the western part of the state, near Pittsburgh, while the eastern part of the state has remained steady over the past several weeks after spiking in late May and June.

New York, which is governed by the NYSPHSAA, has also announced that they will be altering the fall sports season. Unlike Pennsylvania and Virginia, New York plans to postpone all fall sports until September 21, instead of starting in late August.

Additionally, the state has also created a plan in case fall sports are interrupted by another surge of the virus. In that case, sports would move to a condensed schedule, similar to Virginia’s.

  • Season I (Winter Sports)
    Dates: Jan. 4-Mar. 13 (Week 27-36) 10 Weeks
  • Season II (Fall Sports)
    Dates: Mar. 1-May 8 (Week 35-44) 10 Weeks
  • Season III (Spring Sports)
    Dates: Apr. 5-Jun. 12 (Week 40-49) 10 Weeks

In New York, girl’s swimming and diving occurs in the fall season, while boy’s swimming and diving competes in the winter. The state does not sponsor water polo.

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