Under every helmet was a masked player, breathing deep amid the dust and stifling heat topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees celsius). August in Texas can be cruel and the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a new set of obstacles in the way.
“Social distancing!” Porter yelled as the players headed for a water break. Nearby were handwashing stations the coach-built himself by drilling holes in long pieces of PVC pipe bought at a local hardware store.
Still, Porter wonders if it will be enough to stave off an outbreak and whether his farming community 40 miles outside Austin will see football on Friday nights.
“I just hope,” Porters says with a sigh through his own cotton mask, “that we still get to play.”
Just like big-time college football, American high school sports is starkly divided on whether to play this fall.
While the national COVID-19 death toll has passed 160,000 and total infections rise above 5 million, more than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have suspended football and other sports at least until spring. Their ranks include California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland and Illinois.
But Texas and dozens of other states are pressing on amid questions about safety and COVID-19’s long-term health impact on young athletes.
Many teams are already practicing. Utah played its first games this week; at one of them, Davis High coach Mitch Arquette told his players to seize the moment before a 24-20 win over Herriman.
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