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Season-in-review: Leaders consider spring football a success

The Fox Valley Classic conference had just four of its 70 games canceled because of COVID-19 this spring.
Posted at 6:44 PM, May 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-07 23:42:49-04

Playing high school football in the spring wasn't ideal, but those involved consider the unique season a success.

The Fox Valley Classic conference - a super-conference made up schools from the Fox Valley Association (FVA) and the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) - had only four of its 70 scheduled games canceled by COVID this spring.

"I think the kids were much better prepared (than they would have been in the fall)," Garry Sievert, the FRCC's commissioner, said. "So I think they could deal with the social distancing and everything that goes with it. I think it was a big plus.

"I don't think they would have been playing as much in the fall as they did this alternate season," he added.

The numbers back that up. While the Fox Valley Classic had only six percent of its games canceled due to COVID-19, numbers sent in from the Bay Conference and Northeastern Conference - both of which played in the fall - indicate a much higher percentage of canceled games.

Twenty-two percent of the Bay's games (six of 27) were canceled and 15 percent of the NEC's games (four of 26) were canceled.

"Just a credit to the coaches and the athletic directors," Sievert said. "They've worked hard to keep their players safe.

"I don't think people realize how hard the athletic directors have had to work to keep their kids safe," he added. "It's been a challenge."

Benefits go beyond the sheer percentage of games played. Longtime Kimberly coach Steve Jones pointed out the overall experience was better in the spring than it would have been in the fall, when fans weren't allowed to many games.

"We've been able to play in front of a crowd," he said. "I know it was important for these kids to play in front of a crowd each week and we've been able to do that, so I'm really happy about that."

"The bottom line is the kids got to play," Sievert added. "They didn't get to play last fall. So they played and we were able to get a season in. I think that's certainly been a plus, especially for the seniors."

There were some downsides for schools that played in the spring. They were only allowed to schedule seven games. Teams that played in the fall were allowed to schedule nine, though very few of them played a full schedule due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

Additionally, the overlap of the spring season with traditional spring sports has been difficult, Sievert said. Football has had a two week overlap with baseball, and many baseball games have been postponed because of a lack of players.