Photo Essay: High School Football in a Pandemic
I’ve always been a fan of high school football. Friday nights under stadium lights are a place I’ll always adore. But, since COVID-19 hit, football has been in jeopardy for players, coaches, and fans across the country. Currently, 33 states are playing high school football. Michigan is one of those, following a reversal of the MHSAA’s original postponement. But, is it the same in a pandemic? What’s changed? I photographed two different games in an attempt to answer this question.
Skyline High School did not allow fans, students, parents, or any other spectators of any kind to watch the game to enter the stadium. A popular alternative was to watch from behind the stadium fence.
Saline High School, however, allowed fans. They set their capacity to 1000 fans, even allowing students down near the end zone. Social distancing was preached, but it was loosely followed. It barely felt like 2020.
One thing fans and players were vigilant about were masks. Saline band members even had modified masks to make it easy to play their instrument and then wear their mask. Dancers and cheerleaders wore them during strenuous routines with grace.
Even referees wore them, shown here during the coin flip. Some even had modified whistles that did not require blowing into a mouthpiece.
One thing has remained the same throughout the pandemic. The game itself hasn’t changed a bit.
*Side note: #17, above, is CJ Carr, grandson of legendary U-M football coach Lloyd Carr and brother of Chad Carr from the #chadtough campaign. CJ is currently a freshman at Saline High School.*
And it remains a beautiful game with amazing sights. That part won’t ever change.