FNF Coaches Talk — Pennsylvania schools pause workouts, spring football plans, anti-Black bias in football

FNF Coaches Talk

Welcome back, Coaches. We’ve got a few good stories for you.

1. Pennsylvania high schools hit the pause button on workouts (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

This isn’t great news, particularly because we know how long it took for football to come back after the stoppage in March. But Pennsylvania schools appear to be moving in the wrong direction after returning to practice last month.

The move is directly related to the surge in COVID-19 cases. And teams now hope it won’t be long before they can resume.

July has already been an eventful month for Pennsylvania high school sports. Last Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf made it mandatory that face masks be worn in public spaces outdoors when a distance of six feet cannot be consistently maintained. A day later, Allegheny County ordered that gatherings of more than 25 people were prohibited for one week and recommended that residents stay home during that period to prevent transmission of the virus. Then on Tuesday, Allegheny County reported 204 new cases, making it the eighth consecutive day the county has had at least 100.

Some schools have decided to keep workouts going. Or, in Pine-Richland’s case, get them started. Rams football coach Eric Kasperowicz said July 6 had long been his team’s planned start date. The Rams held their first workout Monday, and Kasperowicz said it went even better than planned.

“We didn’t rush things,” he said. “A lot of schools rushed into it and might not have had the best plan. I think with two extra weeks we were able to put a good plan in place to where we’re able to get out there and stay out there.”


What are you doing to make sure your team doesn’t need to postpone its return-to-play timeline?

2. There might be no choice, but spring football could cause major issues for colleges, high schools (KSAT.com)

The Ivy League is considering pushing its college football season to the spring, and it’s assumed that some states will follow the lead for high school football.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not letting up — and with the start of practice for the traditional football season in the fall roughly a month away, now administrators at both the college and high school levels are putting in place alternative solutions, in case things still haven’t improved by August or September.

This is a good article that lists five issues that might arise with playing football in the spring of 2021. Here are two that are of particular interest for high school coaches.

1.) Physical/mental toll
It’s obvious the physical toll football takes on the body for players, and long hours coaches put in during the heart of their seasons tends to be well-publicized. If football is able to be played in the spring, that likely means the pandemic is more under control and things would return to a normal schedule in the fall of 2021. If a spring football season ends in late May or June, that leaves barely two months before another season FULLY starts up again with practices. That wouldn’t be easy.

The burnout factor could certainly take its toll with two seasons in a stretch of about six months. We all know how much time we spend around the house in the spring to make up for the long hours in the fall.

Here’s another factor to consider. Some football players might prefer to play another sport in the spring.

4.) Kids might have to choose between football and other sports.
There are many athletes who play football in the fall, but actually have a future lined up to play another sport such as basketball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer or track and field. Those athletes could choose to focus on that other sport at the club or high school level in the spring instead of coming out for football.


What’s your biggest concern with pushing football season to the spring?

3. In extraordinary call, coaches vent to top HS football refs about anti-Black bias (NJ.com)

In a national climate where there are increasingly frank conversations about racial injustice and discrimination, New Jersey football coaches aired complaints about what they saw as referees’ bias against Black players and coaches.

The meeting of the New Jersey Football Coaches Association, which included around 150 football coaches and the two high-ranking refs, was held over Zoom. Two referees, Carmine Picardo and Bill Surdovel, were on the call to discuss rules changes and were asked beforehand if they would be willing to hear from the coaches on racial bias issues as well.

“It’s just not the players, but also the coaching staff,” said Millville coach Dennis Thomas. “Numerous times I’ve been treated different than an opposing coach. I’ve had refs tell me, ‘Get control of your kids, coach, they’re acting like animals.’ And I’m thinking, animals, really? Are they out of control or are they just emotional? I had an opposing coach tell me once the ref told him I can’t believe you have to play those thugs.
“I think a lot of refs need training on different cultural backgrounds. Not every kid is going to respond or act the same way, but I’m seeing kids consistently being treated the wrong way. The same thing happens year after year. I know there’s 152 coaches on this call and not everyone will agree with me, but these things are happening.”


What can be done to ensure that Black players, coaches and officials are treated the same as their white counterparts?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk