National high school organization reports success for fall football

INDIANAPOLIS – On a recent call with Doctor Karissa Niehoff, Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the discussion of COVID-19 deaths and positive tests related to high school football emerged. The Oregon School Activities Association is a member of the NFHS.

According to Niehoff, 14 states made no changes to a fall football season and played games as planned. Five states (Oregon, Nevada, California, Virginia and North Carolina) opted for no fall season football, moving the sport instead to the spring. The remaining states modified the fall season for football, delaying or rescheduling games for later in the fall season.

To date, no state has called for a cancellation of the football season for 2020-21.

The NFHS reported 7,500 high school football games have taken to the field this fall in a survey of 17 states. A total of 1.7 percent of games have been called off due to COVID-19 concerns.

Niehoff stated positive tests among high school football players this fall have been traced to outside events, not team events.

“Social gatherings are our largest problem, not games or practices,” said Chad Pennington, a former National Football League player and currently a high school coach in Kentucky, a state playing football. “We are constantly on our kids about going out with friends away from the field.”

A Pennsylvania high school recently issued a correction after reporting a former student died from complications of COVID-19.

Jamain Stephens was attending the California University of Pennsylvania at the time of his death. A defensive lineman on the team, Stephens and the team were not playing football after the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference halted all games due to COVID-19 concerns.

Stephens graduated from Central Catholic High School in 2017 and upon his death, initially reported “Jamain went to his eternal reward after suffering from complications of COVID-19.” One day later, the high school issued a correction to a Facebook post, apologizing for the error and stating “we do not have official confirmation on his cause of death.”