WESTSIDE -- Football coaches in western Benton County are trying to figure out just how to implement the new covid-19 safety procedures put in place this week by the state's activities association.
The new rules, which went into effect on Monday, require players to social distance not only on the sidelines but on the field if not wearing a properly fitted mask or face shield and not fully vaccinated. The rules also require the use of hand sanitizer after each contact with the ball and use of spray sanitizer on the ball between each contact with a player.
"How do my linemen provide any protection for my quarterback if they have to be 6 feet apart?" asked Gentry's offensive coordinator, Jim Swift, when he read the new rules. "I suppose the offensive linemen will have to stay 6 feet back, but what if one of them has been fully vaccinated and is wearing a properly fitted mask? He might slip right through untouched and sack the quarterback!"
In Decatur, where 8-man football is played and the field size is reduced, coaches were wondering if using a full-size field or maybe even adding on some extra yards might not help teams social distance during play.
Gravette's head coach, Todd Teachem, expressed concern that the new rules could change the very nature of the game.
"How do I stop running plays if my defensive team has to maintain the 6-foot rule or quarantine for the remainder of the game?" Teachem asked.
Passing plays are expected to be severely hampered, as well, unless coaches can come up with a better plan to sanitize the football after it leaves the quarterback's hands so that it can be caught downfield by a wide receiver. The current plan requires the ball to be passed to a gloved hand sanitizing team to be disinfected before it is then thrown downfield to the receiver.
It seems HIPAA rules will also come into play in the game since coaches can't ask and team members do not have to tell if they have been fully vaccinated.
Decatur's senior quarterback, Sack Johnson, asked, "How will I know if a defensive end is fully vaccinated and can get close enough to tackle me? It leaves me guessing whether I should down the ball or just smile and take my time before throwing the ball downfield to the ball sanitizer."
"And," Johnson added, "if I do get sacked, can I continue playing or must I go and quarantine on the sidelines?"
The rules affect the officials too. In addition to penalizing teams for breaking the social distancing rules and not keeping masks properly fitted and in place at all times, they will be carrying infrared thermometers and taking temperature readings on players as they run past.
Breaking the social distancing rule carries with it a 15-yard penalty. And, should anyone have a temperature reading of 100.4 or greater, he will be expelled from the game and sent to the locker room to cool down.
S.A. Tired covers fictitious news from an unrealistic perspective for the Eagle Observer. He may be contacted by email at [email protected] News and views in Spinning the News are claimed by no one else but the author.