While the fate of local high school football in Wisconsin is still being decided, local youths got unfortunate news Thursday.
The Rock Valley Youth Football League has canceled its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league, which includes teams from Clinton, South Beloit, Beloit Turner, Big Foot and Edgerton, said it simply had to make the decision to ensure the safety of the kids in the program.
The RVYFL serves both fifth and sixth grade students in the aforementioned communities.
League president Marty Mumm of Clinton said the decision wasn’t one he wanted to make.
“This isn’t an outcome anyone would have wished for,” Mumm said. “But when I talked to other members of the league and we talked about what was in front of us, it just came down to the safety of everyone involved. As leaders of our youth, I felt that we needed to make a stand and be proactive instead of reactive, and that’s why I felt we needed to make a decision at this time.”
Mumm said he’s not giving up hope for a season sometime during the academic season.
“We’ve had preliminary discussions of what it would look like to move the season to the spring,” Mumm said. “None of us just want to cancel the season and wash our hands of it. We had heard rumblings of the possibility of states moving the season, and we’re still talking and trying to see how that might work. Nobody’s guaranteeing anything, but hopefully we’ll be in a better spot when we have dates that make sense logistically.”
The league, which is four years old, serves as a critical transition point from flag football to middle school ball.
“When we developed this league, I was coming out of a community that supported tackle football in third and fourth grade,” Mumm said. “And after looking at it, we just didn’t think it was worth the risk of a kid that age taking a big hit. We felt we needed to draw a line in the sand, and we were able to connect with other communities that felt the same and create a league to address those two years before middle school.”
Mumm said a misses season altogether would be damaging for young players.
“I don’t want to say it’s the end of the world, but it would hurt,” Mumm said. “You also have to look at a community like Brodhead. They don’t introduce tackle football until seventh grade, and it works for them. In the way we’ve structured things, flag football is where you learn to run a pass route and things like that, and you’re introduced to the team concept. Once you get to fifth and sixth grades, then you start learning some rules and learning how to tackle safely and properly.
“Kids pick up a lot of things at that age that they move forward with. Losing a season would be a setback, for sure. How much, only time will tell.”