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Q&A on coronavirus (COVID-19) and suspension of American football activity

Saturday, March 14, 2020

BAFA answers questions around the current situation with British American football and COVID-19

Following the statement yesterday (13 March 2020) regarding the suspension of all American football related activity due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, BAFA has produced a Q&A to respond to questions that members may have concerning the suspension.

This is an unprecedented period for our game and for Great Britain as a whole, and we understand the disappointment of not being able to train and play. However, we would urge everyone in our game to stick together as we manage and overcome the current situation. BAFA’s first priority remains the safety and wellbeing of members.

Can we still train or play friendly games? The announcement issued says that teams are ‘requested’ to suspend all American football related activity. Does this give clubs the choice?
Unfortunately, no. Individuals should not undertake any American football related activity, and this includes training. It also includes friendly games and scrimmages. Individuals do not have a discretion in this regard. The decision to suspend all American football related activity has not been taken lightly, but BAFA believes it is the right decision to help protect the safety and wellbeing of members.

Can we hold training sessions remotely, e.g. classroom sessions over Facebook, or film sessions over Facebook?
Yes, this is fine. The suspension of American football related activity relates to individuals meeting together for activities such as practices, scrimmages or games. It does not therefore preclude training or film sessions held electronically.

Can we hold gym sessions?
We encourage players to stay fit and healthy during the period of the suspension. Therefore, players are encouraged to continue to attend gyms, but equally encouraged to follow strict enhanced hygiene protocols and the specific guidance given by the gyms they attend.

Club gym sessions are included within American football related activity and are therefore not permitted. We have suspended football related activity including training to reduce the occurrence of people coming together, and therefore reduce the risk of cross infection. This applies equally to teams coming together in the gym as it applies to teams coming together on a training field.

Can we hold club meetings? We’ve got an AGM due to take place; can this still happen
The suspension relates to all American football related activity, which includes meetings such as an AGM. The purpose of the suspension is to reduce the number of times where there are groups coming together, to in turn reduce the risk of cross-infection. This applies equally to a meeting such as an AGM as it does to training.

It also applies to other club events, such as awards or presentation evenings. With regards to social evenings, these count as American football related activity if the event is organised by the club. We are not, of course, suggesting that friends within clubs cannot socialise together, but club organised and club-wide events are considered American football related activity.

Can we hold management or committee meetings?
It is important that clubs continue to manage their affairs as best as they can. Club management or committee meetings can therefore continue but should be managed sensibly and we suggest that clubs conduct these meetings electronically, e.g. by Skype or conference call, where possible.

Can individuals still participate in games organised by other leagues, such as the Outlaws League?
No this is not permitted. The suspension of all American football related activity applies to all players, coaches and teams who are registered with BAFA. Therefore, any player, coach or team who participates in any American football related activity would be contravening the suspension.

Under the BAFA Disciplinary Procedure a BAFA Game is defined to include any other game played in Great Britain where at least one of the teams represents a BAFA organisation. Therefore, where a BAFA registered team plays in a league such as the Outlaws League this will constitute a BAFA Game and participating in a BAFA Game whilst American football is suspended would constitute a disciplinary offence.

We are currently engaged in school activities – can these continue?
Many schools are issuing their own guidance, however coaching in schools, such as conducting an after school club, constitutes American football related activity and so even where a particular school has not yet taken the steps to cancel the session, this is covered by the BAFA suspension of American football related activity. Therefore these sessions cannot continue unfortunately.

When the suspension is lifted, and games will resume, how will BAFA deal with the impact on the leagues?
The impact on the league will depend, in part, on how long the suspension lasts and when games can resume. The impact this may have, and the best way to overcome this, will depend upon the particular league. We will, where at all possible, look to rearrange games. This may be easier in leagues such as the youth or flag leagues where there are fewer game days, and so rearranging game days is easier.

This is harder for the adult league, which is already very congested. Teams will have the opportunity to rearrange their games, but it may not be possible for teams to rearrange all of their games. If this occurs, then BAFA reserves the right to decide the outcome of the league by other appropriate means, such as win percentage. We appreciate this is not ideal, but we are dealing with an unprecedented situation that means we may have to adapt and compromise while we prioritise safety and wellbeing above the sport.

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