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Gov. Phil Murphy says scholastic sports in New Jersey will “get there”

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The Last Dance Baseball Tournament lets seniors who last their final season a chance to compete

Asbury Park Press

TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday night he is still optimistic there will be a scholastic sports season in New Jersey this fall. 

“My personal view is we’ll get there,” said Murphy to reporters at Arm&Hammer Park after he threw out the first pitch at the Last Dance World Series, presented by RWJBarnabas Health, championship game between Cougar Baseball (Cranford) and the Jackson Jags (Jackson Memorial). 

Murphy’s comments came after he said earlier in the day the COVID-19 rate of transmission number of 1.35 was setting off “alarms that we are taking very seriously”. 

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“There are red flags and most of it is due to indoor activity, indoor parties on top of each other, no face coverings. That’s a recipe for disaster,” Murphy said. 

Most of the scholastic fall sports, like football, soccer, field hockey, girls tennis, cross country are played outdoors. Girls volleyball is the only fall scholastic sport that is indoors. 

“When you’re outdoors, it’s structured,” said Murphy, who indicated the NJSIAA will have major input in the final decision to have a scholastic sports season. “You’ve got real coaches and real institutional support.”

The NJSIAA has said the fall sports season is scheduled to begin Sept. 28 for girls tennis, Oct. 1 for most of the other sports and Oct. 2 for football. There will be shortened regular seasons and post-seasons in all sports. Official fall practice will begin September 14.

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The scholastic sports world is currently in the summer recess period. Phase 1 began July 13 and Phase 2 got underway July 27 for those schools who had completed Phase 1. 

Murphy thinks fans will be allowed to attend high school sporting events in the fall. he said his Executive Order limiting outdoor gatherings to 500 is likely to be in effect. 

“People are going to have to wear masks and socially distance,” Murphy said. 

Murphy, who bounced his first pitch and attended his fifth game of the Last Dance World Series, once again had high praise for the tournament.

He called the tournament “overall a home run”. On July 22, he said tournament was “magical”. A crowd of 500 attended the game Friday night. Crowds of 500 attended Jackson’s previous three games at FirstEnergy Park, Lakewood. 

“It’s an extraordinary idea,” Murphy said. “It’s a great moment to be able to play sports in the midst of this awful pandemic. I take my hat off to everybody. I’m really hoping we extend this, learn from this and extend it into the fall season for other sports. ”

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