SPORTS

American Fork football game delayed until fans comply with public safety guidelines

Aug 21, 2020, 5:52 PM
American Fork football game delayed until fans comply with public safety guidelines...
(American Fork High School students returning to assigned seats while the game was stopped. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(American Fork High School students returning to assigned seats while the game was stopped. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

AMERICAN FORK – American Fork High School is in the national spotlight after their football game against Timpview came to a grinding halt.  School officials say they stopped the game because too many fans were ignoring public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

When Thursday’s game started, people inside the stadium at American Fork High School appeared to be wearing their masks and sitting in their assigned seats. However, as the first quarter went on, American Fork Athletics Director Jeremy Lewis noticed the fans were inching closer and closer to each other.  Just before the first quarter ended, Lewis says he had a clear message for the refs officiating the game.

Lewis told them, “If I had to, I will get a hold of the side judge and I will be letting him know we will stop the game.”

Lewis grabbed a microphone before the start of the second quarter and told the fans on the American Fork side to go back to their assigned seats and put their masks back on.  He says this is a rule from the Alpine School District and they will not allow any leniency about complying.  Even the players on the Cavemen roster started asking the fans to cooperate.

“It was really good. They were saying, ‘Move! Move! We want to play,’ Lewis tells KSL.

There have been plenty of videos in recent months posted online showing people pushing back or becoming combative when others tell them to put their masks on.  However, Lewis says, in this case, there really wasn’t any pushback, at all.

Lewis says, “I think we have good people and they were supportive of what happened. Our coaching staff was supportive of it and they understood what needed to take place. They’re in the same boat we’re in.”

The school’s decision has been covered by national outlets like Yahoo! Sports and Stadium.

KJZZ Sideline Reporter Tony Parks was reporting live as Lewis was giving his instructions.  Parks says he has never seen anything like that in any of the games he has covered.

Parks says, “There has never been anything where fan behavior, and a massive group of the fan behavior where the collective message was to them that [rules weren’t] being followed actually shut the game down.”

Officials with the Alpine School District say there is a very specific reason they assign seats at football games… contact tracing.  If someone at the game becomes sick, health workers need to know exactly who was sitting near that infected person.

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American Fork football game delayed until fans comply with public safety guidelines