What changes faster than Missouri weather?
If you said the high school sports calendar, give yourself a point.
Not only has the calendar experienced many changes, but the attendance policies for those games have run the gamut as well.
There’s been everything from full attendance (with masks and social distancing) to limited attendance (with vouchers) to no attendance.
And that has left area fans checking to make sure their event is still taking place, and that the attendance policy remains the same.
Thank you, COVID-19.
The area sports scene was rocked Wednesday by the announcement that the Pacific football game at St. Clair set for Friday, Sept. 11, had to be postponed due to positive testing for COVID-19 among St. Clair’s team. Players and coaches have been quarantined.
Two other games, Warrenton at Washington and Sullivan at Union, will be played with the home schools’ current ticket voucher policies.
The Borgia football game at Fox in Arnold will be played to empty stands as Jefferson County was placed on a red alert for the virus. That means only players, coaches, officials and other essential personnel.
“While this may not be the best-case scenario for parents or fans, the bottom line is that our kids still get to play Friday night,” Borgia Athletic Director Chris Arand said.
The Fox C-6 District’s other high school, Seckman, had its Friday scheduled game with Northwest called off Monday.
Other options were studied for the Borgia-Fox game, including moving the game to Borgia, but after consultation with doctors, health departments and school officials, playing in Arnold with no fans was deemed the best option.
The game will be available on the Prepcasts.com stream, KLPW sports stream and updates will be on this author’s Twitter (@BillBattle).
No Fans Allowed
Friday’s boys swim meet between Borgia and Washington will be conducted at the Four Rivers Family YMCA without fans. Saturday’s Forest Park Cross Country Festival has been moved to McNair Park in St. Charles, but will run without spectators.
“The safety of our athletes, volunteers and officials is our No. 1 priority,” the Forest Park Festival event committee posted on its website. “To avoid large congregations of people and increasing the spread of COVID-19, we are asking all spectators to stay home this year. We look forward to hosting everyone again in 2021.”
No Change at WHS
Washington High School is scheduled to host Warrenton Friday night. Washington Athletic Director Bill Deckelman said the school’s football voucher system of four per participant (including players, cheerleaders, band members and dance team) will remain in place, but the school will continue to re-evaluate its policies.
“We have not made any changes as of today (Wednesday),” Deckelman said. “We continue to review and evaluate all aspects of activities impacted by COVID-19. This situation continues to evolve and change daily.”
Vouchers in FRC
Four Rivers Conference member schools have been using a voucher system for all sports through the early part of the school year. So far, things have gone as well as expected, according to athletic directors.
“I believe that our fans have been very supportive of whatever we can do to allow our students to play,” Union Athletic Director Dan Ridgeway said.
“I am sure that some fans are disappointed that we had to make these modifications,” Ridgeway said. “There is no perfect solution to making everyone happy.”
Ridgeway said varsity football has been the sport affected the most by the changes.
With the size of our facilities, we have only had to institute the voucher system for home varsity football games,” Ridgeway said. “We are very appreciative of how the Union and Washington fans handled the restrictions (in Week 1). Our band has been located to the high jump area to allow for more social distancing in the stands.”
New Haven Athletic Director Jaime Hoener said fans mostly have been respectful of the masking and social distancing policies.
“I think it depends on who you ask,” she said. “I think there’s room for improvement for some.”
Hoener said complaints have been minimal. “I have heard some whining about why we are limiting spectators.”
Ridgeway said the current system has frozen out some fans. “The toughest part of implementing the voucher system is having to limit attendance,” he said. “Some longtime fans/supporters have not been able to attend. We are fortunate that we are able to livestream the games (varsity football so far) where attendance is limited.”
Hoener said making voucher distributions has been a struggle. “Trying to make sure that vouchers are distributed at the appropriate times has been a little trying,” she said.
New Haven’s home cross country invitational ran last Saturday with limited spectators. Organizers asked that only family members attend and stay only for the race or races they had interest in seeing. They were asked to wear masks and social distance. Runners were asked to wear masks where there were big packs, especially near the start of the race.
“I was very pleased with how the meet went off,” New Haven cross country Head Coach John Tucker said. “For the most part, people respected our COVID-19-related procedures. As much as I hated to do it, we did limit entries in all races to seven runners per team; however, I feel that created a safer environment for the runners and workers.”
Last week at Borgia’s home football game against Union, both schools were allowed to have student sections in the end zone, but masks were required.
Union plans to add a student section for its home games, starting Friday, in the area behind the east end zone. Ridgeway said students have been signing up at lunches for the 100 student fan zone vouchers.
Other schools have indicated a willingness to allow student fans to attend. Modifications will be announced at a later date.
Meanwhile, St. Louis County made its long-anticipated announcement concerning youth sports Wednesday. With guidance from the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, only low-frequency contact sports, cross country, tennis, golf and swimming, will be allowed to go ahead and compete.
Those teams only can compete in the St. Louis region, which consists of St. Louis County, St. Louis City, Franklin County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County and the Metro East.
It is likely that most St. Louis County schools now will opt for the alternate fall season, which will take place next spring. Sept. 17 is the deadline for schools to file with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) to move to the alternate season. Area schools are playing in the traditional fall season.
MSHSAA Communications Director Jason West said only nine football programs had filed for the alternate season as of Sept. 1, but expects more in the days leading up to the deadline.