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Barbour County Schools cancels athletics for upcoming school year

Barbour County Schools cancels athletics for upcoming school year

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The Barbour County School System has cancelled all athletics for the upcoming school year as a preventive measure to the COVID-19.

Both Barbour County Athletic Director Joe Briggs and head football coach Chad Martin confirmed to the Dothan Eagle on Tuesday of the action.

“We have cancelled the season and we will not have athletics for the 2020-2021 school year,” Briggs said in a telephone interview.

When asked if that included the basketball season in the winter and the track/field season in the spring, Briggs replied, “Yes sir, absolutely.”

Martin, in his second year with the Jaguar football program, said the school system had to put safety first.

“It is about keeping people safe first,” Martin said. “We all love football and we all want to get out there, play and do everything we can to do that, but you have to think not only of player safety, but if one of them catches it and they are asymptomatic they can bring it home and some of them live with grandparents.

“I see it from that perspective. It hurts to not be able to play, especially when I felt we were getting a lot better. It hurts not to play, but at the same time, you really and truly have to put safety first and the players’ and their families’ livelihood first.”

Both Briggs and Martin said there has been no decision on academics for the upcoming year in Barbour County, though Briggs indicated a decision would likely come later this week.

Briggs said Dr. Matthew Alexander, the school system superintendent, made the decision to cancel athletics last week and informed Alabama High School Athletic Association Executive Director Steve Savarese shortly after that decision.

“It has been in the plans per our superintendent for a while,” Briggs said. “He had been watching the COVID cases over the summer and he put it in the writing and also made a phone call to Mr. Savarese with the Alabama High School Athletic Association on Thursday. He was issued an OK with no penalty for cancelation under a state and country-wide pandemic. There will be no cancellation penalty.”

Efforts to reach Dr. Alexander on Tuesday for comment were unsuccessful.

On Monday, Greene County and Sumter County in West Alabama announced it would postpone all athletics for nine weeks. Barbour County, however, elected to cancel all athletics, including it’s high-profile basketball program. The Jaguars boys’ basketball team was Class 2A state runner-up last year and was expected to challenge for the 1A state title this year.

Martin said he didn’t have a firm reason why the school system decided to make the decision for the winter and spring seasons too.

“I know they had gone back and forth on a few things,” Martin said. “I think they made the decision to go ahead and do it for safety and go ahead and knock it out all at once instead of waiting.”

Though AHSAA athletic teams could hold voluntary workouts on campus since June 1, Martin said Barbour County officials withheld athletes from the campus after a virus outbreak in the county in May. In fact, Martin said teachers have only been at the school once since state officials shutdown schools in mid-March – and that was to clean out their classrooms in May.

Since June 1, Martin said Jaguar coaches and players had been meeting virtually through Zoom and that the athletes had been working out on their own.

Martin said he had been busy on Tuesday contacting Jaguar players about the cancelation developments.

“They have been working out and they were excited, so they are bummed out about it, but they understand it,” Martin said.

080220-euf-sports-bcsfootballplayerspic ----- Sports cancelled at county school system

Submitted photo

Football is just one of the sports at the Barbour County high school that has been cancelled for the upcoming season due to precautions against COVID-19. Pictured are two Barbour County football players going at it during a drill at a Jaguars’ practice.

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