Health concerns are always at the forefront of everyone’s mind as the football season kicks off, but the 2016 campaign brings a new risk to South Florida: the Zika virus.
As reported by the Palm Beach Post, there is no imminent threat of cancelations or schedule changes to the early season slate in Palm Beach County despite the majority of America-originated Zika infections coming from a single district of Miami. However, area officials continue to warn their school counterparts about increased risks around any standing water, as well as drilling holes in any items that might capture standing water in an attempt to neutralize the mosquito threat.
No matter how many precautions a school can take, it can’t completely mitigate the Zika threat. That’s particularly true at Forest Hill, where one of the members of the coaching staff has a wife who is pregnant.
“We do have some concerns about Zika,” Forest Hill coach Jude Blessington told the Post. “While the kids can generally fight it off pretty well, we have insect repellent for them if they choose to use it. But we are definitely conscious of it here.”
What all schools are desperately hoping is to avoid a replay of the 1998 season, when weeks worth of high school athletic contests were moved from evening starts to the daylight to mitigate the threat of mosquito-born encephalitis. That health crisis wiped out gate and concession revenue, not to mention the impact it had on student athletes who were forced to miss more class time to accommodate the schedule shifts. That threat remains in the backdrop now, even if some South Florida coaches refuse to register any serious Zika concern.
“I have no concerns over Zika,” Kings Academy coach Keith Allen told the Post. “I am more concerned about the traffic.”