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No Fans Allowed
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-08-05

PIAA bans spectators for all school sports in fall

 

Upper Perkiomen football players perform in avoluntary practice.   If 

they play games this fill, the will do so in empty stadiums.

 

            Hunter Flack described the possibility of playing football in an empty stadium as less than ideal. Still, the Upper Perkiomen senior quarterback says that is a better alternative than not playing at all.

            "I'm just hoping to have a fall season," Flack said.

            Last week, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association released a 26-page document providing guidance on how its member schools may consider a return to competition for the upcoming fall season. Spectators for all events are not allowed, according to the information released on July 29.

            Tom Hontz, the Indians head football coach, has no problem with his team playing its games in empty stadiums. "If my players are competitors, like I think they are, they will have no problem playing without fans," Hontz wrote in a text message.

"In some ways it may be like backyard football, where you play for the competition and the fun."

            According to Flack, competing without fans in the stands will feel "really weird." He said the players will likely have to get used to the environment.  "It will certainly be a different atmosphere," Flack said.

            A preliminary School Sports Guidance document which was released by Gov. Wolf's office states that "the addition of visitors and spectators will be contingent upon future health conditions within the state and local communities."

            Mike Freed, head coach of the girls soccer team, expressed support for anything that will allow his players the chance to have their season. In a text message, he explained that he understands that parents will be upset about not getting to see their children play and that it will seem strange to play a night game in an empty stadium that normally has lots of people and lots of noise.

            "High school sports are about the athletes," Freed wrote. "Their needs come first."

            Jamie Warren, the head coach of Upper Perkiomen's field hockey team, does not think the unusual circumstances would affect her team's performance.

            "The players are eager to play and are looking forward to the opportunity to compete," Warren wrote. "We are thankful to be on the field hockey pitch together as a team."

            Should spectators eventually be permitted to attend contests that attendance requires that fans must adhere to social distancing requirements of at least six feet of spacing for anyone not in the same household.

            To assist with proper social distancing, areas should be clearly marked. Adults must wear face coverings (masks or shields) at all times. Spectators should not enter the field of play or bench areas. Nonessential visitors, spectators, and volunteers should be limited when possible, including activities with external groups or organizations, according to the document.

On Monday, multiple members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives – including state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-134th Dist. – sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf asking him to you modify his "unilaterally-imposed crowd size limitations to allow spectators at PIAA sanctioned events." It states that without spectators, especially parents, able to watch their children and community members succeed on the field, something of the experience is lost.

            Flack said he understands concerns over COVID-19 could force the cancellation of the season. He was shaken to see that Norristown announced late last week that it was suspending all interscholastic activities. Administrators recommended that the board of directors vote to eliminate the season, according to a July 28 message posted on Twitter.

            "I would be really disappointed if the season was canceled," Flack said.


 

 

 

 

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