Facemask penalty? High school football players, coaches, and refs encouraged but not required to wear face coverings

Coronavirus Updates

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Fans attending some Utah high school football games this season have to sign a statement that they’ll wear a mask but what about the players, coaches, and referees on the field? That’s going to be up to the individuals.

There’s no such thing as social distancing on the gridiron where the players come face to face while blocking and tackling. That’s why Bingham’s game against Weber was canceled after three Miners players tested positive for COVID-19, potentially threatening their season.

“I think this group of kids is as good as a group we’ve ever had here at Bingham,” Miners Head Coach Dave Peck said. “I just hope they get a chance to show it out on the field.”

The Utah High School Activities Association’s Guidelines say that players should wear masks on the sideline but they’re not required to wear them while playing.

Veteran referee Matt Schofield will be working the Viewmont-Northridge game Friday night and while he might call a facemask penalty, he won’t be calling out players or coaches who don’t wear one.

“As officials, we’ve been asked to not even participate in telling someone they need to wear a mask,” Schofield said.

The Centers For Disease Control recommends everyone over the age of 2 wear a non-vented mask in public to protect others. Salt Lake, Summit and Grand Counties plus the cities of Logan and Springdale have mandatory public mask orders.

Schofield says the Utah High School Football Officials Association purchased masks for their members.

“We’ve been asked to wear masks during our pregame duties but during the game, if we feel like we want to we can but we’re not going to be mandated to do so,” he told ABC4 News. “If we’re in a location that mandates it, we’ll have to follow that in order  to work the game.”

A check of the schedule shows that 17 of the 49 games scheduled this week will be played in areas where masks are mandated in public including Thursday night’s Davis-Herriman game.

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