High School Football To Continue But With Limited Fans

High School Football To Continue But With Limited Fans

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High School football returns in two weeks but with a limitation on the number of fans who can attend, according to new guidelines from The Indiana High School Athletic Association. 

“It is better than no fans, at least we can get parents there to be able to watch their kids play,” said West Washington Athletic Director Darren Russell. “It will be different but at least our kids get to play.”
 

Senator Football Coach and Superintendent Keith Nance said, “WW fans always show up and support our team and it will be different for sure. But, when a Senator puts on their helmet and crosses that white line they are playing for their teammates, their school and to win. That will not change.”

The IHSAA says fans will be allowed to attend events this fall, but each set of bleachers will be capped at 50% capacity or 250 people, whichever comes first.

Families will be able to sit together but must be six feet away from another family.

“Obviously, the reduction in crowd sizes will hit us hard financially,” said Salem High School Athletic Director Hank Weedin. “However, this latest allowable attendance is much better than the previously released number.  250 per set of bleachers (if able to still social distance) is much better than the original 250 total which included the players and coaches.”

Weedin said there will be people unable to attend due to us reaching maximum capacity. 

“We will not be able to offer season passes/family passes due to having to be able to track the number of attendees.  A reduction in the size of the crowd will also take away from the game experience for the players but at this point, I think kids are so ready to play and afraid of losing another season that they would be fine with playing in front of no fans if necessary to assure we get a season in.”

Weedin stressed the need for Lions fans to cooperate with the rules. 

“The biggest thing I can stress is that we need our fans to cooperate and pull together to make this work,” he said. “There will be rules and changes that are different than a normal year but we have to focus on what is important…which is our kids.  If fans do not follow the guidelines of wearing a mask and social distancing, regardless of your personal beliefs on the effectiveness/governmental control/etc., we run the risk of high school sports being shut down.  Obviously, the ultimate goal is to keep people healthy but a by-product of following the guidelines and cooperating is that high school sports may be able to continue.  A few people choosing to buck the system can ruin it for everyone, especially the kids, which is what this is all about.”

Weedin said the school is working on a plan for ticket distribution and will share that information that once a detailed plan in place

WSLM 97.9 FM and WSLM 1220 AM, which are both members of the IHSAA Champions Sports Network, will broadcast the games for Eastern, Salem and West Washington LIVE on the radio as well as streaming them online. 

“We lost part of our sports season this spring as Covid-19 shut down the Big Ten Tournament and with no NCAA Basketball tournament as well as the start of baseball, WSLM began playing some classic games,” said station owner Becky White. “We played classic IU basketball games, classic Reds and Pacers broadcasts. Also, WSLM has broadcast the Indianapolis 500 LIVE consistently since 1953 and we didn’t want to spoil that record, so we worked with IMS to broadcast last year’s race in May so we could continue that streak. Of course, we’ll still broadcast the event later this month from the famed track in Speedway.”

White said she was glad to see high school sports return as it is an indication of normalcy as well as a positive outlet for the youth to get them back to what they love to do. 

“I just hope it’s done in a safe way that keeps both players, staff and fans safe during this pandemic,” said White. 

In the end, though, the IHSAA says each school may still enforce its own stricter guidelines if their county sees fit.

Washington County Health Nurse Alicia Thompson said fans will be required to sign in when attending local games.

“Everyone in attendance must sign in (name and phone number) so that if there was a confirmed positive we would already have a list of potential exposures,” said Thompson.

“The schools may decide who they let in to observe based on the number of people allowed at their games, similar to Adams Co. I have heard that some schools are giving out a certain amount of tickets to each player to assist with this process.  The 50% capacity or 250 people is also based on if bleachers still allow for social distancing. Every schools’ bleachers are different sizes and that will also help dictate the number allowed.”

All three schools in Adams County announced Monday that the general public will not be allowed to attend events this fall. Only four family members of each high school senior on the team will be permitted.

The IHSAA guidelines also mentioned that student-athletes who remain on the sidelines should wear a mask. If a school must cancel a contest because of coronavirus, it will not be considered a “forfeit” but rather a “no contest.”

For guidelines designed specifically for an individual sport, the IHSAA is suggesting schools and teams following the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released. 

Click here for a copy — 

IHSAA pointed to a study conducted by UW Health & the University of Wisconsin that found more than two-thirds of high school athletes reported anxiety and depression since the onset of the pandemic.

Additional guidance:

  • Contests canceled due to COVID-19 will not be required to pay a cancellation fee. 
  • If a contest is canceled due to COVID-19, it should be recorded as “No Contest”. 
  • Anyone who is not engaged in strenuous physical activity should be wearing a mask. 
  • Athletes can wear neck gaiters and should slip them up over their nose when they are not participating in the contest.
  • If a school decides to sell concessions, it is recommended that all items sold in the concession stand be pre-packaged prior to sale.
  • Spectators will be allowed at the discretion of the host school with guidance from local health officials and in accordance with the governor’s stage 4.5. 
  • IHSAA by-laws 9-14 (Practice Attendance Required to Participate in a Contest) and 50-1/101-1 (Pre-Participation Practice) will remain in effect.