MAC ON SPORTS: IDPH REVISES FAN ATTENDANCE RULES

J. Thomas McNamara

    As soon as the Illinois High School Association announced Monday afternoon that outdoor athletic events, i.e. football and boys soccer, can be increased from a total of 50 spectators to 20 percent venue capacity, I wrote each of the 12 athletic directors the Decatur Tribune for response on how their respective schools plan to decide who makes up the 20 percent.
    As I write this story for the newspaper’s website, I have not received responses from any of the 12 and I understand why.
    There are so many variables to deciding who can and cannot attend.
    Each school can decide how it wants to handle the fans making up 20 percent of their capacity.
    For example, do they allow only home fans as some schools did in basketball for the 50 where they allowed only their own fans into the gyms.
    Or do they split it 50-50, half of the 20 percent venue capacity to the host school and to the visiting team.
    Also, how about the true football fan, who usually comes out Friday nights to watch the game of their choice, i.e. game of the week in their minds.  I know many who fall into this category.
    How about families?  Do you only allow two tickets to each player’s immediate family.  If so, how about the families of four, five, six.  That’s not fair.  How about grandparents of their kids, who they’ve followed for years.  Will they be left out.
    I know this is a hot button issue from the emails I received for several weeks from fans asking about what the attendance policy would be and that was before Monday’s IDPH/IHSA announcement.
    Athletic directors and Principals are going to make some fans awfully unhappy with their decision, what ever it is.
    The media is exempted so I don’t count and will not be taking a fan’s spot.  There’s only six weeks this year instead of nine because of the pandemic shortened season.
    “We have been adamant in our discussions with IDPH that we believe we can safely and responsibly expand spectator guidelines without risking the general public to greater exposure to COVID-19,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said.  “This felt like a commonsense change, especially as we evaluated collegiate and pro sport spectator guidelines in the state, and are happy for the student-athletes who will be participating in IHSA outdoor sports this spring and summer, as well as for their families and friends.”
    Practices for both boys soccer and football— boys soccer is classified as moderate-risk and football higher-risk — are underway. Boys soccer practice began March 1, with games allowed after teams complete seven practices. Football began practicing March 8, with the first night of the season Friday, March 19.
    I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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