If you don’t think the year 2020 won’t have an asterisk by it, just check out the High School League’s requirements for member schools hosting athletic events during the 2020-21 academic year.
In past years, showing up at a high school sporting event was a routine parents, siblings, grandparents, classmates and alumni did without even giving a second thought. In fact, the Friday Night Lights of football helped measure a school’s success and the community’s involvement in its schools.
But that, like much of routine facts of life, has changed because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it is reflected in the High School League’s guidelines.
It’s not exactly a tome, but totals 10 pages of do’s and don’ts that will help make attending events safer for all involved. It even covers the use of megaphones. Those have been banned this year.
“It,” Philip Simmons football coach Eric Bendig said, “will be a work in progress.”
The guidelines include overhead photos of stadiums, gymnasiums and tennis courts advising fans where they can sit and stand. And, if you want to attend a high school athletic event, you must wear a face mask.
The guidelines, which are to provide member schools requirements for hosting an athletic contest where spectators will be attending, will apply if attendance at a venue exceeds the Governor’s Executive Order for spectator capacity (50% capacity or 250 persons at the venue whichever comes first).
All member schools are advised to refer to the CDC (cdc.gov) and SCDHEC (scdhec.gov) for additional information on best practices for managing events with groups of people.
Here are some of the highlights of the High School League’s guidelines.
• All staff, spectators and other auxiliary groups should stay home if they have a fever or feel sick, and must quarantine and stay home if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or are showing COVID-19 symptoms.
• Schools should determine what capacity their venue can accommodate so that people will remain six feet apart at all times. Indoor facilities should not exceed 50 percent capacity as defined by the fire marshal.
• Schools may include standing room only and nontraditional seating areas in their capacity accommodations. Bands, cheerleaders, teams in waiting, or any other group that will have seating blocked off for their use during the event must be included in attendance considerations.
Fans will notice changes on arrival at venues. They will notice changes in the way they purchase tickets, the way they visit the concession stand, and even the way they visit the restroom.
• Upon arrival at a sporting event, communities should be separated for parking. Tailgating or other social interactions is prohibited. Once you arrive at a venue, you must put on a face covering.
• E-tickets and pre-sale options should be used to avoid long lines the day of an event. These options should be made available to visiting schools.
• Tickets should be sold in a “drive-through” manner where each car will purchase tickets for everyone in the car to prevent standing in lines.
• As for visits to the concession stand, touchless payment options are to be used as much as possible, if available with customers and employees to exchange cash or card payments by placing them on a receipt tray or on the counter rather than by hand to avoid direct hand-to-hand contact. Also, if possible, concessions should be available to both home and away spectators without the groups crossing over.
When it comes to restrooms, schools are not allowed to have lines or crowds to form near the restroom without maintaining a distance of at least six feet from other people.