The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is requiring all officials assigned to state playoff games and tournaments to be vaccinated.
As reported by CBS affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh, the PIAA measure, which only applies to state playoffs and not the regular season or Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League playoffs, follows recommendations by the PIAA's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
“They’ve met very frequently over the last couple of years since COVID came upon us,” PIAA assistant executive director Pat Gebhart said via Zoom. “We are trying to do our part by having our officials vaccinated.”
Coaches and athletic directors feel this is another level of protection for students, fans and coaches. That said, the PIAA can't mandate that students and coaches be vaccinated. It is recommending vaccination for those groups.
“When more people are vaccinated, the better off we all are going to be so we can keep getting people in their athletic venue,” North Allegheny athletic director Roberto Bozzuto said.
According to KDKA, there is concern that this decision from the PIAA will drive some refs away when there is already a shortage.
“You’re talking about being down even more officials. So yeah, that’s a good concern if it happens that way,” Clairton football coach Wayne Wade said.
PIAA leaders feel they will have enough officials to get through the fall sports state championships. It can’t afford to have its tournaments delayed by COVID-19.
“It’s very difficult to postpone a football game to the following week. You can’t do it,” Gebhart said. “The tournament moves on.”