CIAC reaffirms decision to cancel football for 2020-2021 school year

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CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) has reaffirmed their decision to cancel full contact football for the 2020-2021 school year.

At the CIAC Board of Control’s meeting on Wednesday, they made that decision to cancel football in alignment with the Connecticut Department of Health’s (DPH) recommendation that football is a high-risk sport and should not be played this fall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: DPH responds to CIAC’s proposal to consider high school football

The news upset many players and coaches.

“It’s just heartbreaking because I’ve been working four years just to get to my senior year and put on good stats and numbers to play at the next level in college,” said Hillhouse High School player, Demelle Turner.

“A lot of these kids look forward to playing football to earning a free scholarship to go to school for some type of money,” added Coach Reggie Lytle. “That’s going to be a big concern and a big hurt.”

The CIAC did, however, agree to consider allowing competition at a later time for sports that can’t hold its regularly scheduled season, like football, provided it doesn’t negatively impact spring sports.

That decision wasn’t favored by some players.

“It’s not good for anybody and it could mess me up with track and other sports that I do,” said Ralphael Hawkins, a junior at Hillhouse High School. “I might not be able to do it because of them pushing sports to the spring.”

Related: Hundreds of athletes gather in Hartford, beg CIAC to ‘Let Us Play’ HS football

“CIAC made every effort to weigh all factors in this decision, including the passionate voices of students, parents, and school personnel, and ultimately made the determination to align its decision with the recommendations of the Governor’s office and DPH to not hold high-risk sports at this time. In conversation with other state associations across the country, it was clear that a key factor in playing interscholastic football was alignment with the opinion of their state’s governor and state health agency.”

CAS-CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini

Related: Officials condemn threats targeting CIAC, DPH decision-makers after announcement HS football will not be played this fall

The DPH has recommended substituting “higher risk” athletic activities, like football, with “moderate risk” or “lower risk” options and /or postponing those activities to a later time. The CIAC will also recommend low and moderate-risk football activities for schools to engage in with their football athletes.

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