Utah Becomes First State to Start High School Football Season Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Utah has decided to get back to normal the best way possible by kicking off the high school football season. Over the weekend, high school football teams in Utah played games, making them the first state in the country to start the football season amid the coronavirus pandemic. There are 15 states — California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington — that have decided not to play football this fall, as mentioned by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

"I know a lot of other states are canceling football or postponing it, and are probably going to cancel it after they postpone," Crimson Cliffs running back Creed Leonard said via USA Today. "I'm just so grateful that we get this opportunity to come out and play one game for the senior year during these times." The Utah High School Activities Association and local school districts encouraged social distancing and masks while attending games. USA Today mentioned local school districts and the UHSAA can't require an athlete to get tested for COVID-19.

Utah has had over 46,800 confirmed cases of the coronavirus with 364 deaths. At one point, the state was averaging 700 cases a day. Governor Gary Herbert is looking to get the state to average under 400 a month by Sept. 1. High school football teams in Utah have been practicing with precautions for the last month. Bingham High was forced to cancel its home opener against Weber after three players tested positive for COVID-19. The first game played in the state was between Herriman and Davis, two schools located outside of Salt Lake City.

Despite 15 states not playing high school football or any fall sports this year, there will be other states that follow in Utah's footsteps. Florida high schools will play football this fall and games can start as soon as Sept. 4. Georgia high schools can also start playing football games on Sept. 4, but 67 teams will not play at that time due to the issues with COVID-19.