A high school football game in Idaho was stopped at halftime when anti-government activist Ammon Bundy refused to wear a mask or leave campus, officials said Monday.
Bundy wanted to watch his son, a linebacker for the visiting Emmett High School Huskies, in their game against the host Caldwell Cougars on Friday.
The dad was turned away at the gate for refusing to adhere to Caldwell’s coronavirus masking policy, Bundy and school officials both said.
Bundy, best known for a 2016 standoff with his father, Cliven Bundy, at an Oregon wildlife refuge, then tried to watch the game from a parking lot – on campus grounds, but outside the stadium – and was asked to leave again by hosts. When he didn’t, Caldwell administrators called the game at halftime, with Emmett ahead, 35-0.
Emmett High School does not have a policy asking fans to wear masks, so Bundy was free to go mask-less at Huskies’ home games. But if Emmett plays at a school with such safety protocols in the future, Bundy told NBC News on Monday, he’ll act just as he did on Friday.
“I have a strong belief in my right to choose to wear a mask or not,” Bundy said. “And If they think somehow there’s a safety issue, then they need to section off a part of the bleachers to accommodate for those of us who believe differently than others.”
The CDC has recommended that all Americans wear masks in public during the pandemic, though it’s a local district-by-district decision for high school activities in Idaho.
it wasn’t immediately clear over the weekend which team would be declared the winner because the game wasn’t completed.
But by Tuesday, the two schools decided that Emmett should have the win, said Ty Jones, executive director of the Idaho High School Activities Association which governs prep sports in the Gem State.
Both sides apparently agreed that Emmett’s five-touchdown lead shouldn’t be wiped out by the brouhaha over Bundy.
“That would be my thought (that a 35-point lead should stand) but I wasn’t given a reason, just a final score,” Jones said.
Emmett Independent School District Superintendent Craig Woods had appeared to brace his side for a possible forfeit.
“This is incredibly sad for the Emmett High School football team, high school and community. They were winning the game,” Woods said in a statement over the weekend.
“They’ve been having a great season, and they’ve worked hard. We were the visitors. We should respect the host’s policies and procedures. Whether you agree or not when it comes to masks, the football team should not have to suffer the consequences. I’m proud of the Huskies. They did not ask for this.”
Whitney Lee contributed.