Zach Ertz found solace in high school football when he was 15-years-old.
The Eagles tight end is worried about what will happen to teens today if there is no high school football this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would challenge everyone if the decision is no football there’s got to be an alternative,” Ertz said during a video conference with reporters Friday afternoon, “where we (don’t) allow these kids to go about their days with no guidance, with no further investment.”
The fate of high school football and all fall high school sports is a much debated topic as the fall approaches.
New Jersey plans to start the high school football season on Oct. 2.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday recommended there be no high school sports competitions until 2021. The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said Friday it intends to have a fall season, but will delay its start by two weeks. Delaware announced this week it was postponing all fall sports until the spring.
Ertz is not calling for football at all costs.
“I want kids to be health first foremost,” Ertz said. “That is the primary goal.”
But what he is saying is don’t just cancel or postpone falls sports seasons and then forget about the athletes.
Ertz grew up in Danville, California and was the oldest of four boys. His parents divorced when he was 15-years-old.
“I was so frustrated inside,” he said. “The only thing I could do was play football. I focused. I lifted weights, played football and played basketball. That allowed me to release my internal stress and pressure that I had built up.”
Ertz said the adversity he faced as a teen pales in comparison to what many teens face today. He made his statements on high school football unprovoked.
“Obviously, football costs money, so if there were to disband football where is that money going to,” he said. “I would love to see it invested in these kids to make sure they’re OK and taken care of and not on the streets from 3-7 (p,m.).”
Ertz said as a teen he benefited from the structure high school sports gave him.
“I was out of the community from 3-7,” he said. “I couldn’t imagine the path I would have gone down if I didn’t have football to express myself. If that is decision (to cancel high school football this fall), I would just really challenge (people) to think outside the box on how we can keep these kids safe.”