COVID on the Field: Football Team Copes With MHSAA Guidelines

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Margaret Hamilton

South players look on as they crush Detroit Renaissance 42-0.

Following the football team’s rout of Detroit Renaissance on Aug. 26, Grosse Pointe South saw its first COVID-19 repercussions of the 2021 school year. Detroit Renaissance reported a dozen positive cases, meaning Wayne County’s COVID protocols went into effect: all unvaccinated players who accumulated 15 minutes of playing time must enter quarantine immediately.

With that, the team had to forfeit multiple players for their next game and were left having to clean up other people’s mess. Some coaches and players said they felt confused with the way things were being handled.

“It’s arbitrary [at times],” defensive coordinator Chad Hepner said. “Is there a big difference between 14 minutes and 16 minutes? Not really. But that’s where we’re at.”

Parent Jill Campbell agrees with the coaches, as she is struggling to understand why there is not a more common-sense approach being taken regarding quarantines.

“If you have a potential exposure, then you should be able to test out of a quarantine,” Campbell said. “Or if you’re vaccinated, you shouldn’t be required to have a mandatory quarantine.”

The coaches weren’t the only ones upset. Some players also felt like there should be modifications made to the rules.

“I would make it so that you could test out of a quarantine with a negative COVID test,” co-captain Joey Klunder ’22 said. “I don’t see the logic in forcing people to quarantine if I can prove that they don’t have [COVID].”

Additionally, there’s a feeling that the vaccination rates of a specific town or city should play a bigger role in the protocols. Detroit is reported to have a 35 percent fully vaccinated rate for people 12 and over, whereas Grosse Pointe is at about 80 percent.

“I think that those two differences should probably lead to different standards,” Hepner said. “I think that that would be a good decision for each school district to make themselves.”

Hepner said he has been annoyed with the uncertainty of quarantines and how it has affected his team both this year and the year before.

“It’s been frustrating the last year and a half,” said Hepner. “For a lot of sports, we’re just always walking on eggshells, wondering if something’s going to happen.”

Despite the frustration among the team, Klunder said the players have been able to keep a positive attitude among all the turmoil.

“There’s a motto that our coach tells us pretty often, which is to control everything that comes your way,” Klunder said. “If there’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to roll with the punches, and it’s next man up.”