Seventeen states have started high school football in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with another six set to play this week and 11 more coming in the fall.
Arizona is one of those waiting and watching and wondering.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Executive Board is set to vote on the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s latest recommendations on Wednesday before moving forward with next Monday’s start date for practices in helmets.
Let’s look at some of the states that have already experienced Friday night lights amid the active COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the states, according to MaxPreps.com, that have already kicked off their seasons:
Utah, began Aug. 13
Alaska , Aug. 20
Indiana, Aug. 20
North Dakota, Aug. 20
South Dakota, Aug. 20
Tennessee, Aug. 20
Alabama, Aug. 21
Idaho, Aug. 27
Iowa, Aug. 27
Montana, Aug. 27
Nebraska, Aug. 27
Texas, Aug. 27
Wyoming, Aug. 27
Arkansas, Aug. 28
Missouri, Aug. 28
Ohio, Aug. 28
Oklahoma, Aug. 28
Utah started first, and three weeks in there has been one reported game canceled each week due to coronavirus. The latest was a game between Provo and Timpview last Thursday. Bingham-Weber (Week 1) and Cyrpus-Ridgeline (Week 2) also were canceled.
In Week 2 in Utah, a game was stopped at American Fork with the athletic director instructing fans to spread out in the stands, because they were too close together. Schools are supposed to follow the protocols for high school football to be played. And that includes fans spaced out into their assigned seats for safe distance to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Last Friday and Saturday, ESPN took advantage of high school football in Alabama, Utah, Texas and Ohio, showcasing games.
Ohio State can’t play fall football, following the Big Ten’s vote to suspend the season, but the high schools began as scheduled last week, after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine gave the green light to contact sports at the high-school level.
But instead of the normal 10 games, schools can play a maximum of six games with every team in Ohio making the playoffs. Arizona is hoping to play eight regular-season games.
Teams in Ohio can’t dress more than 60 players. And only 15% of the stadium’s capacity can be filled with fans. Marching bands can’t travel.
In Texas, stadiums are limited to 50% capacity.
Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News, covering a battle of two top-10 Texas teams – host Argyle and Decatur – described Texas high school football with all of its pomp and festivities in the time of the coronavirus to, “like trying to hold a rock concert in a hospital ward.”
The public-address announcer gave all of the safety protocol measures, and the stadium seating was marked with green dots on where fans could sit with an empty row between every row of people.
In Alabama, The Tuscaloosa News reported some school systems shut down football before the season while some games were canceled the first week of the season. But, in most places, high school football went on.
At Central High School in Tuscaloosa, before its 50-6 win over Holt, flowers were presented to the senior class of players that normally would be at the last home game of the season, The Tuscaloosa News reported.
“We just want to try to enjoy the moment,” Central coach Rodney Bivens Jr., told The Tuscaloosa News. “If we only get one game or if we get three games, we just want to make the most of that moment.”
Through the first two weeks of the season in Tennessee, there was 127 fewer games played than in the first two weeks of the 2019 season, according to The Tennessean.
The Tennessean reported that Metro Nashville schools director Adrienne Battle announced last week that high school sports would be put on hold until further notice.
This is another sample state on how Arizona should be ready to reschedule games on the fly this fall.
Oklahoma kicked off the season last week with half-full stadiums.
At Bixby, before opening against Union, Bixby Superintendent Rob Miller told The Tulsa World: “I can tell you our students and parents are extremely excited because this is a reflection of some sense of normalcy even though we’ve started school a little abnormal.”
Last week, the South Dakota High School Activities Association made it easier for athletes to transfer in the age of the pandemic, allowing them to open enroll to a school that is participating in fall sports and return to their home schools following the fall season.
The AIA hasn’t moved into this direction for transfers.
Nebraska start last weekend with five of the 127 schedules games canceled due to COVID-19. That’s 96% of the games played, which the state will take.
The games went on without the seven Omaha Public Schools, which, according to the Omaha World Herald, isn’t able to have football, while its district is in remote-only instruction.
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