Fans will be allowed at high school sporting events
Football games are back in parts of the country, and they’ll be played again in South Carolina soon if everything goes as planned.
The S.C. Independent Schools Association has approved a plan to allow fans at athletic events this fall. The SCISA plan was approved by the S.C. Department of Commerce last week. The S.C. High School League is finalizing its plan, which will also require approval from the S.C. Department of Commerce.
Earlier this month, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster announced the state is limiting stadiums and other venues to a maximum of 250 people or 50 percent of the posted occupancy, whichever is less. He stated exceptions can be made through an approval process.
The SCISA football season begins this Friday. Capacity will be reduced, and will vary, at all SCISA venues this season. According to SCISA athletic director Mike Fanning, seating will be every other row in the stands, and the row near a walkway will be blocked off.
SCISA already has hosted volleyball, swimming and cross country events. Fanning has been encouraged by the safety measures in place.
“It is just like in a game, when a rule is broken a flag is called,” he said. “We are asking schools when they see behavior not meeting expectations, that they blow the whistle until correct behavior is happening.”
According to a copy of the S.C. High School League’s in-progress proposal, face coverings will be mandatory at all times for spectators and staff. Public schools do not kick off the regular season until Sept. 25, but scrimmages will be held prior to the season openers.
The SCHSL will send its proposal to the S.C. Department of Commerce this week. According to a memo sent to district superintendents, each school will make the final decision on the capacity for venues for all fall sports so that family groups can remain six feet apart at all times.
“All member schools should refer to the CDC and SCDHEC for additional information on best practices for managing events with groups of people,” the memo read.
The memo listed procedures for all fall sports, which includes football, volleyball, tennis, cross country and golf.
Tailgating will be banned at public school athletic events, according to the SCHSL proposal, which says “gathering of crowds for tailgating or other social interactions are prohibited.”
A task force made of athletic directors and coaches assisted in planning the protocols for events.
According to the proposal, a school’s capacity plan can “include standing room only and non-traditional seating areas.” And the plan must give consideration “to seating occupied by bands, cheerleaders or any other group that will have seating blocked off for their use during the event.”
The league is encouraging schools to have online ticket sales or pre-sales to avoid long lines. If possible, 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.
Both SCHSL and SCISA said there will be no post-game handshakes following games and any postgame awards should be given at a later time or virtually.