Students, parents fight to keep fall football at high schools


DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — COVID-19 has grasped the gridiron. This week in Dallas, high school officials have canceled a dozen football games over coronavirus concerns.

High school football in 2020 is in the throes of COVID-19. Those Friday night lights looking a little less bright, depending on where you live.

“No matter how long you’ve been around high school athletics anywhere, no one has ever seen anything like this. so there is no blueprint,” said Chris Beckham, sports radio host.

According to a map from the National Federation of State High School Associations, six states have no Fall competition, 14 have no changes and 31 have modified seasons.

Beckham, who has been covering high school football in the south for 30 years says for some kids football isn’t just a way of life.

“For a lot of students, this is their way to a college education. We’ve seen a lot of players who may have been the first person in their family to go to college, use football to get a degree and better their lives,” said Beckham.

Those not getting to fight it out on the field, taking their passion to protests. In Oklahoma, even parents asking for regular play.

“I’m at the point in my life where I would rather my son get the COVID virus, then two days he’ll be fine, rather than seeing the damage that it’s doing to him emotionally at home,” father Kevin Thornton said.

In Missouri, football coaches facing season restrictions taking their teams to compete in neighboring counties where play is allowed.

“You’re only in high school once. we feel we can keep our student-athletes safe, and most importantly we’re trying to give our student-athletes a sense of normalcy because their world and our world has really been turned upside down since last March,” said Mike Roth, Parkway Schools Athletic Director.

In Illinois, a lawsuit has been filed against the state’s high school association for canceling fall sports due to COVID-19.

In the U.S., more than a million students play high school football, about seven percent of those athletes will go on to play at the college level. But while time is of the essence, so is safety.

In the meantime, Beckham said many Americans are missing out on one of the most vibrant fabrics of the community.

“High school football is one of the only places in America where Republicans and Democrats, Black and white, rich and poor,” said Beckham. “Everyone gets together to cheer for one common cause and it’s very rare to find that in today’s society.”

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