TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The fall football season has been intercepted by COVID-19. In fact, all sports are now on pause in Pima County.
This comes after Pima County Administrator, Chuck Huckelberry, sent out a memorandum on Tuesday, November 24th, asking area districts to “cease all high school athletic events”.
“That means all competitive sports and all practices until further notice,” said Pima County Superintendent Dustin Williams.
Williams says the goal is to protect hybrid learning.
“As [COVID-19] numbers rise, you start backing out parts of schools,” said Williams, “because at the end of the day, what we want to hold onto more than anything is the ability to have some kids on campus.”
The latest move comes as the Pima County Health Department [PCHD] sounds the alarm on the rapidly rising community spread and shrinking hospital capacity.
However, not everyone agrees with what health officials have chosen to cut.
“Because [the Sabercats] have been following every rule that’s been put in place,” said Ryan McBrayer, the Head Football Coach at Sabino High School. “We have had no cases in our program.”
McBrayer says not only do the Sabercats take good care of their physical health, football has done wonders for their mental health during a chaotic time.
“It’s unfortunate we are getting recommendations from people that haven’t been to any of those games or sporting events and seen those kids light up with a little bit of normalcy and the ability to be a 14 to 18-year-old kid,” McBrayer said.
Tucson High School Head Football Coach, Justin Argraves, agrees this will be hard on athletes.
“It was crushing news, [but] on the flip side, I understand it,” he said. “Our district is looking out for the wellbeing of our student athletes. Nobody was prepared for this pandemic, but we have to err on the side of caution for students and their families.”
Argraves says athletes are conditioned to handle adversity.
“I’m trying to look at the positives; we did have time spent with our team,” he said.
Most teams were able to get a couple of games in, but the chance of more is slim. That’s why coaches say they will be going the distance for their seniors over the next several months, creating strong reels to grab the attention of college coaches.
“We will move forward, it’s kind of what we always do,” Argraves said.
Districts have also been asked to implement a curfew. Students, parents and staff are urged to stay off school grounds from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.