How will high school sports be impacted

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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In  2014, The New York Times did a Facebook survey, trying to determine which county in all of the United States had the highest percentage of college football fans. 

According to that survey, 38 percent of Chambers County residents are football fans.  Overall, Alabama has the highest concentration of fans at 34 percent, five more than the next closest state.

That’s a high number, but it shouldn’t be too surprising with the amount of success the two main universities in the state have performed the last decade, winning six of the last 10 national championships.

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But, with all that said, our overall point is that about a quarter of you reading this love college football. Football is a sport that brings us together, and right now, we’re not sure it’s actually going to take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We also know that we’re reaching a critical point as time is starting to run out. 

The Pac 12 and Big Ten recently announced that they’ll play conference only football schedules this year. The other Power 5 conferences — the Big 12, SEC and ACC — are working on their plans, but they’ve already seen the ripple effect from other conferences, including canceled non-conference games.

If these games do take place, will any fans be allowed at all? How do these conferences keep fans, players and coaches safe in the middle of this pandemic? And is it worth it?

Those are questions that we all keep asking ourselves as we watch the debate over contact sports head toward a full-on collision. Postponing baseball and basketball, even stopping golf and NASCAR, is one thing, but in the United States, football reigns supreme. Any stoppage on the gridiron will take sports cancelations to a new level, especially in the south.

The NFL, like the NBA and MLB, are a different animal than college sports. The NBA is putting players in a bubble at Disney World. The MLB has reworked its schedule amidst the pandemic, and the NFL has contingency plans in place for postponed or canceled games.

But we must admit we also wonder about the ripple effect down from the college level. The difficult thing about a college campus is that those athletes then head back to dorm rooms and into classrooms with other students. That’s not as much of a concern in the NFL.

But it is a concern in high school. 

Some states have already made adjustments. New Mexico has moved football and other contact sports to the spring. For comparison’s sake, New Mexico has 15,000 total COVID-19 cases, Alabama has over 53,000, though New Mexico has roughly two-fifth of Georgia’s population.

New Jersey has pushed the start of football back to Oct. 1. Other states have said they are looking at their start dates.

The Alabama High School Athletic Association has given very specific guidelines for workouts, but at this point, everything is still moving forward as scheduled. If the games can be played safely, we hope there’s a full season, but we are concerned. 

Like most of you, we love football and many other fall sports, but we are worried about whether it’s possible or even makes sense to have a season.  

Over the next month, as decisions are being made about local schools and how to keep students safe, it’ll be interesting to see how sports are impacted.