A little over a week into high school athletes working out on campuses throughout the state, COVID-19 may have put a little doubt in the minds of some that they’ll be prep sports in the fall.
LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine said last week that four parishes reported having one school each with football players who tested positive for coronavirus, according to The Advocate.
The virus did not just impact prep sports locally. Multiple LSU football players tested positive and were in self quarantine late last week, according to the Advocate.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Monday that Louisiana would remain in Phase 2 of reopening because of a recent uptick in positive cases.
State figures released Monday showed 630 people hospitalized with the disease, an increase of 41 from a day earlier. Hospitalizations peaked at more than 2,100 in April.
According to Edwards, last week 4,200 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the state. This number excludes outdated tests and numbers of cases for Thursday that the health department is still reviewing.
For contact sports, the gradual advancement into Phase 3 is pivotal for the prospect of playing games. In Phase 2, no contact is allowed during workouts.
“It’s just the times that we’re in,” said Port Allen head football coach Don Gibson. “We just don’t know. We’re going to continue to take every precaution that we can. It worried me because it is close to home.
“That was probably the first time it brought a what if scenario for me,” he continued. “The first thing that came to my mind was are we going to have a football season? It’s scary right now.”
Brusly head football coach Hoff Schooler said the LSU situation hit home for a lot of his players.
“We’re just making sure we stay on them about cleanliness and hygiene not just at the facility but at home as well,” Schooler said. “We’re going to continue to do the things we were doing like temperature checks and things like that.”
There is a possibility that if the NFL season begins, fans won’t be in the stands. Playing college games could work for most Power 5 programs, but perhaps not in all mid-major conferences.
Is it possible to hold a high school football season without fans? It seems unlikely, according to Gibson and Schooler.
“There’s no way we’ll be able to play high school sports without fans in the stands,” Gibson said. “We depend on that money. There’s no way high school football programs can manage and pay officials without fans in the stands.”
“Every high school program in the state would have trouble without fans in the stands,” Schooler said. “The all-around experience on Friday would be affected. It’s not just about the football players. What about cheer and band? Who are they cheering to and playing for without fans? I don’t see how you do it without fans in the stands.”