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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke directly to the state’s high school football players during his Friday press conference and weekly COVID-19 update.

“My message for the football players for Monday is to grab your helmet and be ready for practice,” Hutchinson said. “Then after practice, I want you to grab your mask so you can protect others that you might be around. This is very important as we enter into this season. The risk is not just on the practice field. The risk is also as we go about the community. Our coaches, our trainers need to emphasize this to the players. They need to understand it and they need to set the example for their peers about wearing masks.”

Immediately after the press conference, the Arkansas Activities Association released a brief press statement which read, “After the Governor’s announcement today, we have been given the approval to proceed according to the 2020-2021 AAA calendar and handbook regarding practice and competition for all sports.

“We continue to expect compliance with all directives as issued by the Governor and Department of Health. More information related to the directives will be issued as soon as it is released.”

Fall sports in Arkansas will proceed as scheduled. El Dorado will host the annual Simmons Invitational Golf Tournament on Monday at the Lion’s Club. Parkers Chapel’s golf teams are scheduled to travel to Winthrop for a tournament on Tuesday.

As for football, the players will be allowed to wear helmets next week for the first time, although there will be no contact, which is normally the case for the first week of practice.

Despite announcing Friday an increase of 752 positive cases in Arkansas, Hutchinson said it’s important for schools to have sports this fall.

“We need school this fall, and part of school are the sports and other curricular activities that go with school,” he said. “I have heard from every corner of the state, everybody expressing their opinion on this. Based upon that, I want to say the Arkansas Athletic Association has presented a schedule for football in terms of contact, no-contact, team drills with helmets. That will be from August 3 to August 7. We want our student-athletes in football to proceed with their no-contact team drills with helmets throughout next week.”

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