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Pandemic Leads Some High School Athletes Move to Other States to Play Football

Landon Nelson knew he wanted to play college football since the eighth grade. So when officials in California announced that the state would not be allowing fall sports because of COVID-19, he and his family uprooted their lives so he could stay in the game.

"I knew there's always a possibility that they could not play in the spring, and I couldn't really take that risk," said Nelson, a senior defensive back from San Luis Obispo, a city about halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

After seeing that Iowa had implemented a belated softball and baseball season, Nelson and his parents decided to move to the Hawkeye State — jobs, home and all — so he could play in the fall semester at West Des Moines Valley High School and keep his football dream alive. He hopes to play for Harvard University.

"There are some schools that are really interested in him that just need one or two more games of film to make their ultimate decision," said his father, Cory. "By making this move, we're going to give him a little bit more tape, he's going to get the in-person schooling, and so I really do feel like it'll pay off."

While many may view the disruption of youth sports as just another inconvenience caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the loss of athletics for families who have spent years making personal sacrifices and financial investments in their children's athletic careers is causing some to take drastic action. Nelson is among dozens of high school athletes who — specifically because of the pandemic — have moved across state lines to continue to pursue their athletic dreams, according to local news reports.

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