BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - As COVID cases climb, concern also grows about the future of winter sports. State health officials say close-contact sports can contribute to dangerous virus-spreading.
“The CDC had a recent analysis of a hockey outbreak. They had two teams. One person gave it to 22 people on one hockey team. That’s pretty appalling,” said State Health Officer Doctor Thomas Dobbs. “I think yes, it is quite likely that it is more dangerous. There’s less people on the court, the proximity, the indoor nature of it, the less airflow is intrinsically more concerning.”
His concerns were also echoed by State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers.
“Basketball is a particular concern. We’ve seen clusters and outbreaks in basketball teams and we’re worried about that. some cases school have had to quarantine those teams," said Byers. "Some schools have decided to cancel basketball because of the high-risk nature”
It is that high-risk nature that has some calling for the season to be postponed, but many of the fans refuse to support that idea. Some are even asking, if football can go on with larger crowds, why can’t basketball?
“They shouldn’t cancel it at all. Why cancel young kids playing basketball and having fun?" said Willie R. Manning of Biloxi. “This is what they want to do. This is their dream. They want to come out here and have as much fun as possible. So this is some of their last year, so why not let them play ball. They played football, so why not? You played volleyball? You’re going to play soccer, they are going to play everything else, just limit the people that come inside and I believe everything will be alright.”
If the sport taking place inside is the problem, one fan suggested taking it outside.
“Take it to the blacktop, why not? It is only fair to the kids, with all the hard work they put in they deserve this,” said Kyle Cruso of Biloxi.
Some believe enough safety precautions are already in place.
“You love to see the crowd, spaced out with our masks on, safety first,” said Moss Point parent Carla Carter.
As of now, the winter sports season is moving ahead as scheduled for schools in South Mississippi.
The game between Gulfport and Pascagoula was canceled earlier this week after someone on the Panthers tested positive for COVID, said Gulfport school officials.