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High School Football Season: A Very Tough Call to Make

Special to the Elmore Autauga News

The school year is just around the corner. While many questions are still up in the air about school with the increase in coronavirus cases, there is one pressing question still hanging.

Will we play football this fall?

As of the moment there is no definite answer. Several teams in the state suspended football activities when a player tested positive. In the River Region Tallassee High School cancelled football activities last week when a player tested positive.

Official football practice starts on July 27. AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese recently said he is “extremely optimistic” that high school sports will begin on time. The season is scheduled to open Aug. 20.

The anxiety grows because football in the South is close to an addiction. As far as high school football is concerned, Friday night is a social event. Keeping players safe is not the only concern. With high school football comes referees, coaches, trainers, medical personnel, marching bands, concession workers, cheerleaders and of course, spectators. The concerns about spreading an infectious disease go well beyond the sidelines.

Virtually everyone wants the high football season to take place, but the reality is this: The football season of 2020 is in danger.

A couple of things really stuck out in the news lately. The first came from Dallas when the school district superintendent, Michael Hinojosa, interviewed with NBC. When asked if there would be a 2020 football season in Texas, Hinojosa said, “I seriously doubt it.” Texas has a high school football addiction like Alabama.

The other announcement, from a smaller state but still important, came from Texas’ neighbor to the west. New Mexico has postponed high school football until at least the spring semester.

In addition to Texas and New Mexico information from other states is coming forward. The situation is dynamic in all states and the situation can change quickly.  

The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced it will delay the start of all athletics after the start of the school year was pushed back.

California has committed to making a decision about fall sports no later than July 20.

A newly formed Florida High School Athletic Association task force voted to recommend moving back fall practice to no earlier than Aug. 10. That would push back the football season to no earlier than Sept. 14.

Hawaii has basically suspended activities.

On Monday, Louisiana put the football season hold.

The New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association is still planning to start sports in the fall, but not until Oct. 1.

New York’s Public High School Athletic Association COVID-19 task force released a series of potential proposals for the 2020-21 season, including football in the spring or not at all. These proposals serve as “starting point,” or “framework” only.

In Tennessee football will not begin on time. It appears that the season will be delayed at least two weeks.

Up in the northwest Washington announced the start of football would be pushed back to September 5.

In West Virginia the 2020 football season will begin with practice on September 3. The school year has been pushed back until September 8.

Naturally Alabama should not make its decision based upon what others states do, but having the knowledge of other state’s action can certainly be enlightening and may offer some ideas.   

No one wants to make the decision that may alter our schools, students, families, local economy and of course alter our culture. The hardest thing is justifying whatever decision is made. It will be hard to justify school attendance, and especially spectator sports, with a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases. If football is cancelled then many folks will come unglued.

It’s a tough call, especially in Alabama. But someone has got to make it.