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High School Football in January? FUSD Superintendent Says It's an Option
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By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 4 years ago on
May 20, 2020

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Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson knows how important high school sports are to students, their families, and the community, and how disappointing it will be if COVID-19 forces districts to cancel yet another season.

Photo of Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson

“Americans are desperately looking for a return to what constitutes what they believe to be an American way of life, and I think high school football is pretty much seminal to that.” —  Superintendent Bob Nelson

Nelson said he’s considering alternatives, such as supporting a delay of the football season until January to give more time for the coronavirus to dissipate.

“Americans are desperately looking for a return to what constitutes what they believe to be an American way of life, and I think high school football is pretty much seminal to that,” he said Tuesday afternoon on the Trevor Carey show on PowerTalk radio.

The logistics of bringing back high school sports still need to be worked out and would have to involve the California Interscholastic Federation, which oversees high school sports in the state, Nelson said.

He said he’s planning to talk with trustees about options for resuming high school sports.

CIF Waits for Green Light

Jim Crichlow, the CIF’s Central Section commissioner, said a number of scenarios are under consideration for the upcoming high school football season, but no decisions will be made until after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifts state restrictions.

For football, the CIF could schedule a full 10-game season with section, regional and state playoffs, or a modified six-game season, he said.

“Or we could start in January, but it could be without fans,” Crichlow said.

Crichlow said it would be problematic to overlap the schedules of different sports because so many athletes at smaller schools play multiple sports.

“I don’t think it’s a feasible option,” he said.

 Time to Suit Up

Two Fresno Unified high school coaches told GV Wire they eagerly await the day when students can return to schools and participate in sports —but only when it’s safe to do so.

“So many are going to school to play sports. It’s the thing that keeps them going. If you take that away, what are the effects?”Bullard High football coach Don Arax

Bullard High football coach Don Arax said he wonders if a January start to football games would be any less dangerous, however, since it’s the height of the regular winter flu season.

“I’m skeptical of anything in those heavy flu winter months,” he said.

Some non-contact sports like golf might be safer for students while the coronavirus is still at hand, but a contact sport like football presents many challenges, Arax said.

But football also represents an opportunity for students and can be a ticket to a free college education for the top athletes who wouldn’t be able to afford it on their own, he said.

Keeping Kids Involved

Activities like sports, band, and cheerleading are the glue that binds many students to their schools, Arax said.

So when it comes to restarting sports, “I’m all for it, but it has to be done responsibly.” — Hoover High boys basketball coach Tezale Archie

“So many are going to school to play sports,” he said. “It’s the thing that keeps them going. If you take that away, what are the effects?”

Hoover High School boys basketball coach Tezale Archie said he hadn’t heard talk of moving the fall football season into winter and possibly overlapping with the basketball season.

Archie, whose team was two games away from the state championship round before losing to Stockton’s Brookside Christian in March, said his varsity players aren’t on the football team, but some of the freshmen hoopsters play both sports and might have a conflict.

He agreed with Arax that sports can be an incentive for some students to stay in school and stick to their studies.

So when it comes to restarting sports, “I’m all for it, but it has to be done responsibly,” Archie said.

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Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email

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