Alabama high school football team forfeits games after players receive gift cards

Alabama high school football team forfeits games after receiving gift cards: ‘This truly stings.’

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A high school football team from Alabama had to forfeit their victory as a result of the school providing gift cards to several players.

After Tuscaloosa County’s victory over Central-Tuscaloosa, the team’s head coach, Adam Winegarden, revealed that the players were given gift cards as a gesture of appreciation. Notably, Tuscaloosa County is a part of the state’s 7A classification and managed to secure a win against Bessemer City in Week 2 of this season.

According to, Winegarden received a call from the Alabama High School Athletic Association informing him that some of his athletes had been given gift cards to Buffalo Wild Wings as recognition. Unfortunately, this recognition caused a problem as it changed the athletes’ status from amateur to professional.

According to Winegarden, the gift cards that were under scrutiny remained unused. Interestingly, two of the players who were given these gift cards were present during the victorious football game against Bessemer City.

The challenge involved students rushing onto the field during halftime, causing chaos and interrupting the game. The disruption led to the game being delayed for several minutes while officials worked to clear the field. This incident serves as a reminder of the potential consequences of viral social media challenges and the importance of ensuring the safety of all individuals involved in public events.

The executive director of the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA), Alvin Briggs, recently issued a memo to school leaders as a friendly reminder of the association’s policies regarding amateurism.

According to a memo obtained by, it is important to note that the NCAA’s NIL regulations do not extend to high school student-athletes. The memo clearly states that individuals currently enrolled in high school cannot receive any form of compensation, whether it be cash, checks, gift cards, Venmo, Apple Pay, or any other means, based on their affiliation with their high school sports team.

As per regulations, it falls under the school’s jurisdiction to communicate and educate both parents and students regarding the AHSAA Amateur Rule, along with its respective consequences in case of violation.

The overall record of Tuscaloosa County has now decreased to 2-1.

Winegarden shared that the AHSAA became aware of the gift card issue when another school reported Tuscaloosa County for a possible violation. It appears that some posts on social media featured the players with gift cards, which led to the association’s attention being drawn to the matter.

According to Winegarden, he would have preferred to receive information about the possible violation from the school before the association.

Winegarden expressed his disappointment at not receiving a call from the school that reported the incident. He stated that the student-athletes who received gift cards have been reinstated and are now eligible to play after going through the appeals process.

The overall record of Tuscaloosa County has now reached 2-1. The team is all set to take on Hewitt-Trussville this Friday evening.

Winegarden was understandably disheartened about the team’s unfortunate forfeit of their hard-earned victory. He recognized the immense challenge of securing wins in the competitive world of sports.

According to Winegarden, “Our children put in a lot of effort to come out victorious in that game. Winning is never easy, and the entire scenario is very disheartening. Throughout my career, I have never had to forfeit a game. So, forfeiting one due to a situation like this really hurts. It’s not as though we were playing against a team that didn’t make a genuine move. This all boiled down to the interpretation of words and how the children were acknowledged, and that’s quite disappointing.”

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