Did you know another pandemic impacted the Bellefonte football season more than 100 years ago?
Looking back more than 100 years ago, different epidemics and pandemics were sweeping across the country – that of polio in 1916 and the flu in 1918.
According to information from the Bellefonte Area High School alumni directory published in 2015, the Bellefonte football team, as well as their opponents, postponed the beginning of the football season in 1916 as requested by the health department due to the epidemic of polio. Two seasons later, in 1918, games were canceled due to an influenza outbreak known as "Spanish flu."
“In a striking decision, the traditional game of football at Bellefonte High School was voted down by parents after reviewing letters sent out by the athletic council,” said local historian Patti Hillard whose work has been published. “After just a one-year hiatus, the (team) took the field once again.”
Fast-forward to 2019-20, a new pandemic started, known as COVID-19 or novel coronavirus. By Aug. 11, 2020 there was more than 330 confirmed cases and 10 deaths in Centre County, according to the state Department of Health.
While the Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Athletic Association is allowing high school sports to start for the fall 2020 season -- unless otherwise directed by the state -- it will come with strict guidelines including distancing and wearing face coverings, while also following Return-to-Play plans created by the district's athletic department.
One of the earliest photos of Bellefonte High School football. Its oldest members would have missed the 1918 season, by just two years.
*By Brit Milazzo, public relations director, BASD