PROVO – After getting a strong amount of negative feedback, Provo High School is moving its homecoming football game back home — without spectators. However, some educators are voicing their frustration they had to make this decision.
When Gov. Gary Herbert announced Provo and Orem were moving into the “orange” or moderate-risk category of COVID-19 restrictions, the decision allowed for team sports to continue — but fans were not allowed to watch in-person. Provo High School then arranged to move its upcoming game against Wasatch High School to a neutral site, namely Spanish Fork High School.
This move was not very well received by many people in the county. Some posted messages to the Provo City School District’s Facebook page, saying things like:
“By allowing this you are sending the message that rules/mandates do not matter, there’s always a way around them. I just can’t believe an educational institution is condoning such despicable behavior!”
“This is a horrible message to send the kids.”
“I honestly cannot believe that ‘Provo’ would allow, rather instigate such a circumvention of the rules. Can they go any lower?”
However, District Spokesman Caleb Price said that was not the motive for moving the game.
“The whole point of moving the game wasn’t an effort to find a loophole in the mandate or skirt the rules or anything like that,” Price said. “They were just trying to bring the school community and those families together to support the kids.”
In an email sent to PHS patrons, Principal Boyd McAffee explained why he was frustrated the game had to come back to Provo without spectators. He stated that other schools in other districts have been allowed to move their games to accommodate fans.
Plus, he said the same fans that aren’t allowed to watch the game in Provo would have been allowed to watch an away game.
“It is interesting that our fans are too contagious to be allowed to congregate together in our own stadium,” McAffee wrote. “But if we had a schedule that assigned us to play out of town this Friday, our parents and spectators would be allowed to follow the team and attend the game. Supporting students and parents, and our community should not be based on luck, and yet in this case it is based on scheduled home or away games as determined in a meeting last spring.”
McAffee also stated this decision prevents the cheerleading squad, marching band and dance team from performing. Also, the homecoming court can’t be honored by the school. Price says there are a lot more students that invest their time and efforts into a football game, not just the players.
“Cheerleaders, the band and the other students that are heavily involved in a football game, especially the homecoming game, they had the opportunity to have a last ‘home’ game and have their fans in attendance,” Price said.
McAffee’s letter also states, “Whether you agreed with our original decision or not, it was made in support of our athletes, our performing arts students, our cheerleaders, our Homecoming Royalty, our parents, and our community. These are new and challenging times. Comprehensive high schools are first and foremost centers of learning, but we are also community centers. Places where communities gather around to support kids. There is no simple right and wrong answer to questions regarding how to balance the risk of community spread of COVID-19 and supporting our students’ academic progress and social and emotional health. Our decision was not an attempt to circumvent the governor’s order or any guidelines. Our decision was made in an effort to support PHS students and the PHS community.
“The Provo High administrative team tried to do what they thought best to support our students and our community. But, due to random luck of scheduling, we will not be able to have community support at our game Friday. It is unfortunate that guidelines put in place have such random outcomes that disadvantage one school over other schools simply based on whether they play at home this week or play away. I hope for a win Friday night against Wasatch High School.”
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