Are Our Football Games Safe?


Cora Lohkamp, Writer

Attending a football game and supporting high school sports should be a universal experience. However, recently, at many different schools, there have been shootings, fights, rumors spreading, and police officers everywhere. The place people once went to have fun, is now unsafe. Football games have spectator limits and are being postponed. This is happening across the country, however many schools in Delaware have had traumatic experiences.

All around Wilmington and the surrounding area there has been footage of crowds rushing out of stadiums, even going onto the field just to get out of the stands. At most of these games, there are already police there, but they don’t know what is happening because they can’t see through all the people. Gianna Cottone 26’ says, “It’s disappointing that no one is safe even at a high school football game.” At the Howard vs. DMA game at Abessinio Stadium on September 2nd, a fight between two people broke out. There were police on the scene and they said no shots were fired. People were running out of the stands and it was so hectic that officials had to postpone the game. 

Coach Tattersall, the football coach at friends, was at the Howard vs. DMA game. Tattersall says, “It was just a mass panic. Kids ran left, then they ran right, then they ran across the field. There were no gunshots fired but it was literally a panic.” He described how there were police escorting girls out who snuck in and everyone had their phones out, recording when a fight broke out in the crowd. After that, a separate fight in the men’s bathroom spilled out, and soon everyone was running, even the DMA players. On top of this, Tattersall explained that the kids were smoking Marijuana, and when the police dogs came out, everything got even crazier. Most of the kids at this game starting this madness aren’t students from either of the schools playing in the game. Tattersall describes the situation as a “Complete overreaction, complete misunderstanding, and a complete panic on everybody’s part.”

WFS plays at Abessinio Stadium on October 21st against Howard High School. The game has already been moved from 7:00 to 5:00 PM as a precaution. Tattersall plans to, “Let the county do their job, and we’ll do our job.” In case of emergency, Abessinio Stadium does have a place for the players to exit quickly and stay safe. Coach Tattersall says, “I am not overly concerned, one, because I know the people at Howard really well and they are taking the measures into their own hands, the county is going to take measures into their own hands.” Something to be expected is a limit on the number of people allowed into the stadium who have nothing to do with either of the schools.

Another game that involves shootings and fights is the Appoquinimick vs. Middletown game at Middletown. This game was on September 23 and this time there was actually a shooting. Police say that one adult and one juvenile were shot. Luckily, the shots did not kill anyone and the 2 people shot suffered from non-life-threatening injuries. The next day, the Archmere vs. Howard game at Abessinio Stadium had limited spectators out of caution. This was supposed to be an important game, but only 2 spectators per player/cheerleader were allowed. This was disappointing news to many people who planned on attending. 

On September 23, 2022,  there were 5 bullets found outside of a game in Philadelphia. Lincoln High School played West Philadelphia, and luckily no one was found injured. This was the same night that there was a shooting in Middletown. In New Jersey, the Collingswood vs. Mastery game ended early, although no one knows why. Most of these shootings are happening all around Wilmington. They might not be in WFS’s conference, but it is still very close by. 

All of these events happening can be scary because it is so real. Is it safe to be going to football games? How can this be prevented? Why now? Tattersall says, “Now you have kids that are gathering, really in masses for the first time in 3 years…and I think a lot of it has to do with teenage kids who don’t know how to act in public.” This is something they will learn and will hopefully end soon. More supervision could help prevent teenagers from doing this. What spectators can do is stay calm at games and be aware not everything on the internet is true. Most people are trying to watch the game without any violence so this is a time to stick together. In case anything ever does happen, Tattersall says, “I didn’t hear any gunshots but if I do, this is what I am doing. And I was up near the back and I was like, I’m jumping in the press box.” Having a good plan for escape, like in an airplane, is something that could benefit everyone in case of emergency.

High school football is something that everyone should be able to enjoy. The community needs to work together to make sure it stays that way. Right now, spectators can still attend and have fun, but cautiously. Hopefully, these issues end soon and our community can get back to normal. In the meantime, stay safe and go Quakers!