A terrifying outbreak of a potentially deadly mosquito-born illness in Massachusetts has forced traditional Friday night football games to Saturday afternoon, leaving some families despondent that they are missing out on tradition.
As reported by the Boston Globe, the spread of Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE, has created such a public health threat so significant that 31 different cities and towns have had their high schools declare a curfew to avoid peak mosquito times in the evening. That means a subsequent schedule shift from football on Friday nights to Saturday afternoons.
While no one is arguing against the need for communities to act with an abundance of caution, that doesn’t make losing Friday football under the floodlights any easier.
“From the kids’ perspective, they’re bummed out about it. Not as many of their classmates will come,” Steph Keller, a football mother and the treasurer of the Oliver Ames High School (Easton, Mass.) football booster club, told the Globe. “From a parent’s perspective, this has been a massive inconvenience. It makes it so that now I cannot attend these games that I normally would and want to.”
While the sacrifice is real, so is the risk of not making it. There were four human and nine animal cases of EEE in August, with one woman dying as a result of the disease. A fifth human reportedly contracted the disease in Massachusetts in the first days of September.
It’s possible that an early cold snap could kill off the disease carrying mosquitos, which might then pave the way to returning the scheduled Friday night games to the time slots in which they were intended. Barring that, there’s little question that communities will stick to their guns to avoid the enormous health risks that come with EEE.
“My cousin is a nurse practitioner in Boston and she’s encountered two EEE patients. After I found out from her what it can actually do, I believe no precaution is over the top,” Katie Young, another Oliver Ames football parent, told the Globe.