To play or not to play: High school sports and H1N1 - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

To play or not to play: High school sports and H1N1


MT. HOREB (WKOW) -- The grandstands at Mt. Horeb High School were supposed be filled with cheering fans Wednesday, as the Vikings took on Deforest. But there will be no kickoff, no football game -- the event was cancelled because too many players are sick.

Mt. Horeb athletic director Dan Grady said only five of his 22 starting players attended school Tuesday.

"When they heard the announcement, [Mt. Horeb-Barneveld players] were very disappointed, because it might be their last football game," said Barneveld principal Kevin Knudson. "If they don't make the playoffs, their season is done."

Kelsie Christensen, knows that feeling all to well. She had to forfeit tennis sectionals, when Wisconsin Dells schools closed October 6th due to the H1N1.

"It's a disappointment," Christensen said. "We worked really hard from the beginning of the school year till now -- to have it end like this."

The H1N1 virus has some people rethinking whether sports should be cancelled when schools close.

For athletes who spend years gearing up for the season, it may seem over the top, but for school officials, it is all about safety.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) reviewed its school closing policy on September 11th. Any regular season games will be postponed or cancelled if the school is closed the day of the event. As for the playoffs, teams have to forfeit if school is not in session.  When that happens, the team most recently eliminated takes its place.

"They're the experts," Knudson said of the WIAA medical advisors. "When they say [flu] spreads so fast kids need to be home to be safe, that's what we need to do."

Knudson is a former WIAA board member. He says the current administration is doing an excellent job of monitoring the influenza spread.

"Sports like wrestling, where there's contact, football, where you're tackling -- I can see how being sick that can spread to another school."

But Knudson wonders, if students playing individual sports, like Christensen, could get a pass.

"If she's healthy, and can go to a doctor, who says she's okay, and she's allowed to play."

E-mail Jeff Angileri --


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