By Rick Palsgrove
The games will go on at Groveport Madison Schools, but the atmosphere will be dramatically different this year.
“Our games will definitely have a different feel to what we are used to,” said Groveport Madison Athletic Director Steve Petros. “There will be no student section. On top of that, our fans will also have masks on.”
Following Governor Mike DeWine’s announcement on Aug. 18 that extracurriculars could proceed under set guidelines, Groveport Madison Schools Communications Director Jeff Warner said all of the district’s fall sports can begin play. He said spectators at the games will be limited only to the family members of the student participants and an electronic ticketing procedure will be put in place.
The Ohio Department of Health order
DeWine said an order from the Ohio Department of Health was issued to outline how sports, both contact and non-contact, may move forward in Ohio. The order applies to all organized sports in the state and includes guidelines for spectators. The decision for high school fall sports to be postponed to the springtime will be left to the school districts. This allows sports like football, soccer, and volleyball to move forward with a regular season and provide the opportunity for marching band to perform as well under safety guidelines determined by the Ohio Department of Health and the Governor’s Office, if approved by local school district officials.
Visit coronavirus.ohio.gov under “Mandatory requirements for youth, collegiate, amateur, club, and professional sports” to read the Ohio Department of Health’s order regarding athletics.
Groveport Madison’s reaction
Warner said, following the Aug. 20 release of fall athletic activity guidelines from DeWine, Groveport Madison Schools announced the resumption of fall sports for the 2020 season.
The Groveport Madison Board of Education confirmed this on Aug. 27.
“The safety of our students, staff, and spectators remain our top priority,” said Warner.
Added Petros, “I am extremely proud of our kids and coaches who have adapted better than I thought possible. I am disappointed to not be able to accommodate our traditions of honoring the Golden Cruiser card, military or any other passes that we have always accepted. The important thing is that the kids are getting to play. We need to be grateful for that!”
Cruiser head football coach Mitchell Westcamp said the atmosphere will be drastically different on Friday nights this season.
“Our kids feed off the energy from the fans and spectators throughout the game.,” said Westcamp. “The game is going to almost feel like we are playing in a bubble. We won’t have the fans screaming and encouraging the kids during the game. They are allowed a few tickets each for family, but it’s not enough to create the atmosphere that we have come accustomed to at home on Friday nights. This is our reality this year and our guys are just excited for the opportunity to play football this year.”
The situation is a challenge each day for the all the Cruiser players and coaches in all the fall sports and other extracurricular activities.
“Our whole lives we have been taught and coached to be a team and do things together and now we have to social distance whenever possible,” said Westcamp. “In football, the kids feed off of each others’ energy and love to celebrate with each other, now we have taken those things away from them. It’s going to be a struggle for both the players and coaches during the games due to the restrictions of having to wear a mask whenever we are on the sideline, still have to social distance on the sideline, and bring their own water. Players have to deal with the change of not having a locker room. We have to approach Friday nights differently this year and accept this is the norm for the year and hope things are back to normal next year.”
Participants will follow the public health guidelines, including: Conduct a health assessment prior to participation in any event or activity; If the participant shows any signs of COVID-19, they must report the concern to their coach/supervisor and leave school property; Masks will be worn at all times when not involved in play or practice on the field/court; Continue to practice social distancing when not involved in play or practice on the field/court.
To fulfill the governor and Ohio Department of Health’s updated guidelines, only family members of the event’s participants will be permitted to attend games. (Participants are defined as the players, cheerleaders, color guard, and pep band members who are attending the event). Each participant’s family may purchase up to three tickets per event.
Two tickets will be issued per family due to seating limitations for freshman volleyball.
Families should be seated together and there must be at least six feet of distance between family groups or non-related individuals. All spectators must be seated. Standing along the fence is not permitted.
A minimum of six feet social distancing must be maintained when in any lines (concession stand, restrooms, entry gate, etc.)
All spectators must wear a protective mask at all times when on school property. Anyone refusing to comply with this directive will be asked to leave the event. The district reserves the right to deny a ticket/entry to anyone refusing to wear a protective mask.
The district is using an electronic ticketing system for all high school athletic events. It requires that tickets may only be purchased in advance of the event. No tickets will be sold at the gate. Varsity game tickets are $7 each. Freshmen and junior varsity tickets are $5 each. No student tickets will be available.
The football/soccer field will open 60 minutes before the start of any games. Gymnasiums will open 30 minutes before the start of any games. Spectators must follow signage or other directives regarding the flow of pedestrian traffic at events. For contact tracing purposes, gymnasiums must be cleared of all participants between volleyball games.
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