Coronavirus shutters PC football

No one expected this to be a normal year for high school sports. The hope was that teams could make it through a full season, but reality has set in for most programs in the county.

Monday afternoon the Phil Campbell Bobcat football team was notified they would have to shut down their program for at least one week because of an outbreak of COVID-19 among coaches and players.

According to the school’s Facebook page, the decision was made to cancel Friday night’s game with East Lawrence, resulting in a forfeiture of the region game. The decision was made after consulting the school nurse, Superintendent Greg Hamilton and the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

Also, all football practices and workouts were suspended for the week, including junior high practice and games.

“These precautions are being taken to minimize exposure within our team and within the players from East Lawrence,” said Phil Campbell Principal Darit Riddle. “This decision wasn’t made lightly. We love to watch our Bobcats play on Friday nights, but our No. 1 priority is to keep our student-athletes and coaches as safe as possible.”

The virus has affected nearly every program in Franklin County. Red Bay, Russellville and Tharptown have all had to cancel or postpone games because of either positive virus cases or exposure to the virus. Belgreen volleyball had to shut down prior to the opening of the season in August.

Phil Campbell is the first football team to have to totally shut down.

Every program in the county has had to deal with positive virus cases or quarantines because of exposure to COVID-19. Players and coaches have had to miss practice time and/or games.

Prior to the season, the Alabama High School Athletic Association issued guidelines and new rules to help schools and teams practice safely and have games safely; however, the enforcement of those guidelines was left up to individual schools and school systems. Schools have done their best to put the guidelines in place, but any cursory look around any football or volleyball game has shown that those guidelines have been dismissed by many fans.

The AHSAA will be issuing guidelines for schools Thursday for winter sports such as basketball. With large crowds indoors, basketball poses a special risk to student-athletes, coaches and fans alike.

Most experts in epidemiology expect another wave of the virus as people move indoors in cooler weather. Schools will be asking fans to be respectful and considerate of each other and the student-athletes by following the rules of the school to keep winter sports going as well.