Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

When Gov. Tom Wolf declared fans can be a part of the 250 limit of people allowed at outdoor sporting events and 25 at indoor sporting events, he played a cruel joke on many of the athletic directors in the PIAA.

On the same day the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill to allow high schools to permit fans to attend football games, Wolf made his announcement that fans can attend as long as they are counted among the 250 people allowed at the event.

For many schools, especially the ones in the large classifications, his announcement didn’t change a thing. Most of these schools already had to cut the number of band members, cheerleaders and football players just to reach the 250 limit.

There was not going to be room for any fans and Wolf should have known this. Canon-McMillan, for example, is one of the most populated schools, playing in the largest classifications in football, 6-A. C-M had to cut the 265-piece marching band to 50, its cheerleading squad in half to 12 and the number of players it dresses for home games by 30 just to meet the limit of 250.

There were no tickets for fans unless Wolf doubled the 250 limit. Wolf had to know that but if he didn’t, I’m sure he got an earful from the schools after making his proclamation Thursday. What he did do is unfairly make C-M athletic director Frank Vulcano the scapegoat in this case.

He, not Wolf, had to tell the Canon-McMillan fans there were no tickets available to home games this season.

“He didn’t do us any favors,” Vulcano said.

And he’s right.

Vulcano should not have to be breaking this news to the Canon-McMillan fans; the governer should. Vulcano would love to see the stands filled but it’s not his call.

Wolf’s announcement did help the smaller schools but only because the numbers for the team roster, band and cheerleaders are so small.

It might not be hard to get a ticket to a Mapletown football game. It’s one of the smallest schools in the PIAA. But Canon-McMillan?

Forgetaboutit.

And the number for volleyball – only 25 – was a joke before Wolf’s edict. For many teams, that means sending reserves out in the hallway, treating them like lepers, just to reach the 25-person limit.

How many tickets do you think are going to be available for volleyball fans? If you guessed zero, go to the head of the line.

Trinity athletic director Ricci Rich knows this system is unfair.

“They don’t have any room for spectators. It doesn’t give us any spectators for football or volleyball. Right now, you have to count every single head,” he said.

Rich has a good idea on the fan issue: Allow two pods of 250. The first pod takes care of the players, band, cheerleaders, workers etc. The second pod of 250 is just for fans in the stands. Fans will not be allowed to interact with anyone from the other pod until they leave the stadium.

Seems reasonable.

And as long as the fans are masked and use social distancing, the chance of catching the virus is diminished.

Are you listening Gov. Wolf?

Assistant sports editor Joe Tuscano can be reached at jtuscano@observer-reporter.com

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