SJP Announces Commitment to Play Fall Sports

PHILADELPHIA -- Last week, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that their high schools will not be competing in fall sports this season. Once informed of that decision, St. Joseph’s Prep and the other two independent Catholic high schools who compete in the Philadelphia Catholic League -- Devon Prep and La Salle College High School -- have agreed to play a modified Fall 2020 league schedule and will include non-league competition with fellow all-boys private school Holy Ghost Prep.

All four schools intend to compete against one another in cross country, golf, and soccer while the Prep and La Salle are strongly committed to finding opportunities to play football this fall. Also, though most, if not all, fall rowing competitions have been cancelled across the country due to local or state COVID-19 restrictions, Philadelphia is permitting rowing competition without spectators. The possibility of rowing scrimmages is still an option this fall.   

“While we respect the decision of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, we believe that we can offer athletic opportunities for our student-athletes in a safe, controlled manner,” says Dan DiBerardinis, Prep Athletic Director. “Utilizing our Return to Play protocol, which was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Philadelphia Department of Health and endorsed by the PIAA, we feel strongly that a fall sports season can be done safely. We will take every precaution to ensure that all of our coaches and players are following strict protocols.”

With no guarantee that fall sports could be held in the spring, the decision to hold even an abbreviated season was important to to the schools’ administrators, citing three major factors:

As part of the ideal of caring for the whole person, the four schools recognize that physical activity, specifically athletics, are vital for a student’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. These programs extend beyond the playing field and provide a critical role in each school’s community by having a direct effect on other extracurricular clubs and activities such as music and student-run broadcasts and publications.

This might be the final season for many students to represent their schools, earn a varsity letter, have a Senior Day celebration, and be a part of a competitive team. As witnessed last spring, many senior athletes were unable to have their final seasons. This decision is an attempt to not have that happen again. Also, for some seniors, these games are a final opportunity to earn much-needed athletic scholarships that could impact their college options.

All four schools are committed to affording their student-athletes the opportunity to compete at the highest level and, as such, are members of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) which has announced that it is continuing to sponsor sports in the fall. Although the Archdiocese of Philadelphia felt confident that the PIAA would “provide alternative solutions for those entities opting out of fall programs” there is no indication that the PIAA would modify state championships for the fall season.

Each sport will be handling the modified season differently. More information will be shared once it is available. 

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