LEE COUNTY — Friday was supposed to mark the start of football season for Bishop Verot High School and Riverdale High School, but because of concerns about health and safety, the schools decided to cancel the pre-season kickoff classic. This has some people concerned about a repeat of last year's football season.
Last fall, the season started off with strict COVID guidelines in place on most opening gamedays for high school football, like Bishop Verot's game on September 5th, 2020 against Jesuit High School. Limited fans were allowed in the stadium, and they had to be socially distanced, and wear masks. There were also temperature checks at the gate.
In October, we started to see game cancellations like October 21st, 2020's game between LaBelle High and Cypress Lake. On October 27th, the Golden Gate-Naples High game was canceled as well.
Despite a rise in cases in Southwest Florida and that track record last year, the Florida High School Athletic Association has announced they will not enforce any COVID restrictions at games this year. Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Hendry counties have all said they will allow maximum fan capacity for the 2021 season. It's not just high school either, College teams are starting their seasons off as normal as well. Here in Southwest Florida, Ave Maria will kick off their season against the Georgetown Tigers on September 4th.
Across the country, several conferences saw cancellations last year right around this same time. The Big 10 postponed its football season on August 11th, as did the Pac-12. The next day the D1 council recommended new health protocols for athletes. The SEC followed with their own protocols on August 18th. That's all before the season started.
So far we have not heard of any sort of cancellations or health and safety guidelines for the NCAA this year, but we'll continue to update you as the seasons kick off, starting with Nebraska and Illinois on August 28th.