Fall sports across Indiana have been practicing for the start of their seasons for the past few weeks, despite not knowing at the time if they'd actually be able to play games against other schools when the time came. The Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) answered that question a couple of weeks ago when they announced fall sports would move forward as planned. But, one question remained. Would fans, or at the very least, player's families be able to attend the games in person?

It's a question I have been wanting to know the answer to as well. My son is a sophomore at Boonville High School this year, and will be playing JV ball, but also suiting up for varsity games on Friday nights. While there's no guarantee he'll see playing time on Friday nights, I'd like to be in attendance if he does get in for a play or two, as well as the nights he has JV games where he'll likely get far more playing time.

The IHSAA answered that question today (Thursday, August 6th), along with others, in their three page, COVID-19 Resource Center document that essentially left the decision up to the athletic departments of each high school in the state. The document states the Association, "fully supports its member schools in determining what is in the best interests of the health and well-being of their student-athletes and staff," adding that, "It will be the decision of each local school district to determine if they can safely conduct athletic practices and contests."

The document also features a Frequently Asked Questions portion which asks the question, "Will spectators be allowed to attend sporting events?" Here's what the answer says:

Yes, but it will be at the discretion of the host school with guidance from local health officials and in accordance with the governor’s stage 4.5. If allowing spectators in a bleacher setting:

a) Family units may sit together but using 6 feet of social distancing between another family unit.

b) On a set of bleachers, it should be no more than 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people (even if the bleachers can fit more with social distancing).

c) If a stadium has multiple individual sets of bleachers, each separate area can be seen as a separate unit (see item 2 above). However, an important part is each segment must have separate designated entrances and separate designated restroom facilities in order not to exceed a total of 250 people. Schools might be able to accomplish this by having staggered arrival times if multiple entrances are not available. Bottom line is that they must do something to avoid people congregating (to get in or in line for restrooms).

d) With large events, schools should work with and have approval of the local health department.

For parents like me who wondered if they'd get to see their kids play in person, this is a welcome answer. The question now becomes, in my mind anyway, if schools have to limit entry to 250 people per "set of bleachers," how early will we need to get there to make sure we can see our kids play? It's an answer we may not get until we show up at the stadium for the first game of the season.

[Source: IHSAA.org]

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