Coronavirus concerns meant the school year in Pittsburgh was beginning entirely remote, so the superintendent reasoned that a close contact sport like football, with shoulder-to-shoulder huddles and colliding bodies, could not be safe either. He announced that sports would be postponed until 2021.
Then came protests from students, coaches and parents, pleading that football was important to players’ lives and mental health, and that elite athletes might just transfer to other districts.
“With football, it’s close contact — they’re hitting each other, they’re tackling each other, they’re sweating on each other — there’s a risk, obviously,” allowed Don Schmidt, the longtime head football coach at Brashear High, one of Pittsburgh’s largest schools. But he said football was important for kids who need direction in their lives. “The kids need this. This has kept our kids positive.”