Happy Friday, Coach! Three good stories coming your way.
1. In Texas, High School Football’s Pull Is Stronger Than Pandemic Fears (Bloomberg)
Texas high school football, baby!
While many professional teams play cloistered without spectators, Texas high schools are getting on with the football season, fans and all. If Texas pulls it off, it may rally other states, and perhaps even encourage more college and professional teams to allow spectators.
Football is a rite of fall in the Lone Star State.
A successful season would be a milestone in the opening of Texas’s economy that began in May — and caused a spike in hospitalizations and deaths that’s only now begun to subside. But new outbreaks could shut down the season and strike a blow against further opening. In Itasca, a town with fewer than 2,000 residents, the high school already has canceled at least two games after an athletics department employee tested positive for Covid-19.
The University Interscholastic League, the governing body for athletics and other extracurricular activities, allowed smaller high schools to begin their season Aug. 27. Larger schools, some of them in urban virus hotspots like Houston, Dallas and Austin, can start Sept. 24 with attendance limited to half of capacity in stadiums that seat as many as 19,000.
Across the nation, 16 states have postponed the season until spring, including California, Colorado and Virginia.
How do you think the state of Texas will fare with large crowds this season?
2. He has refereed high school football since 1963. At age 84, he’s not sure it’s safe to return. (Washington Post)
Uggh, we hate to see stories like this.
In the early 1960s, Paul Friedman would take the short walk from his Silver Spring home to the old Bullis School’s field every Friday night. Instead of focusing on the players, like most fans, Friedman studied the referees — their mechanics when calling penalties, how they controlled the flow of the game.
Friedman was hooked on the idea of becoming a ref. So as a 27-year-old in 1963, he did just that. Now, Friedman, 84, is one of the area’s oldest officials.
For the first time after 57 seasons, however, Friedman is spending his fall Friday nights somewhere other than a football field after the novel coronavirus pandemic wiped out this season in the Washington area. The health crisis has left referees who have long dedicated their Fridays to football pondering when they will be able to return in a safe environment.
“Would I like to be out there? Absolutely,” said Friedman, who also worked full time as a financial adviser for 50 years. “But you’ve got to do what you got to do, and you got to protect yourself and your family. That’s the important thing right now.”
How do we make sure elderly people can enjoy high school football this season?
3. New York coaches unhappy with restrictive guidelines for return to play (Rochester and Democrat)
Coaches in New York are grumbling about the “Return to Interscholastic Athletics” report from the New York State Public High School Athletics Association. Many coaches are left with questions after reading the 49-page document.
The Interscholastic Athletic Conference and Southern Tier Athletic Conference announced over the weekend plans to shift fall sports to next year. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association has decided to move football from the fall to March 1 this year because of coronavirus concerns.
“The way I look at it is, the whole thing is safety, you know?” said Tim Hogan, physical education teacher and football and track & field coach at Windsor. “When it comes right down to it, if it’s a safety issue, you’ve got to err on the side of caution and do what’s best for kids.
“I’d rather have safe kids and give up some time in football, do that later.
How would you manage planning a seven-week season from the first practice to the last?
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