Green River Star -

Our view: Want football? It's time to wear a mask

 

September 2, 2020



It isn’t often you hear an athletic director beg fans to follow directions.

During last week’s football scrimmage with Mountain View, the school district’s athletics director, Tony Beardsley, did exactly that in an attempt to get fans to follow health guidelines designed to limit the potential spread of the novel coronavirus. A large group of children behind Wolves Stadium having their own football game, none of them wearing masks or socially distancing themselves as they played. A threat to end the scrimmage because health directives weren’t being followed was also made.

“Please, we want football,” Beardsley said through the stadium’s announcement system.

Football is where the fall sports season will live and die. Should spectators decide not to follow health directives, it isn’t hard to imagine a football game being a place where COVID-19 quickly spreads through a community. Football, through both its inherent rule set and its fan base, is the perfect means to spread a communicable disease. No other fall sport presents the risk of spreading disease like football.

At Friday’s game, many of the Wolves’ fans watched the game without wearing a mask, with many groups sitting closer than 6 feet from each other. This is a problem that will kill the season if left unchecked. During a previous interview with the Star, Beardsley said one of the main reasons Wyoming high schools were allowed to have a fall sports season was due to thousands of athletes attending school workouts throughout the summer without a single COVID-19 infection. Adding fans, regardless of if they’re related to the athletes or not, was a risky proposition and hinged upon following health department guidelines.

If people don’t follow those guidelines, it’s only a matter of time before the season gets called off because of a widespread infection. It may not happen in Green River or even the western half of the state, but an outbreak will not only shutter the remainder of the fall season, it would jeopardize the potential for winter sports. Unlike many of the fall offerings, winter sports are confined entirely indoors. As transmission of any illness is easier in an enclosed space, it isn’t hard to imagine an outbreak in the fall resulting in total postponement of basketball, wrestling and indoor track.

If we want high school sports during a pandemic, we have to follow the rules.

 

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