Fall sports begin with social distancing and masks for spectators

Laura Freeman
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Munroe Falls football will have fewer spectators in the stands for this fall season.

STOW – Falls sports will proceed but spectators will be limited.

The athletic events are limited to 15% of fixed seating capacity at a school’s stadium or gym, according to guidelines put out by the Ohio State Health Department.

Stow-Munroe Falls High School's football stadium has a capacity of 5,600 so 15% reduces the number of spectators to 840, said Cyle Feldman, athletic director.

The order says districts are supposed to take care of people who are involved in the event, Feldman said. Two tickets will be provided to parents of players, cheerleaders, band members and coaches. The opposing team receives two tickets per its 60 players and 10 cheerleaders. Facial coverings will be required of all in attendance and social distancing will be followed.

“We have a pass code distributed to each roster player that allows them two tickets,” Feldman said. “We’re trying to work through extended-family issues.”

“Our football stadium can get the most people in,” said Scott Campbell, director of operations.

Varsity soccer will be played in the football stadium to give them more participant seating, Campbell said.

Bleachers are marked in the main gym for indoor sports like volleyball, Feldman said.

Other changes include a 10-minute football halftime instead of 20 minutes and introductions limited to starters as they get into positions. Also the Ohio Department of Health has set a maximum number of players on the sidelines.

Non-contact sports like boys and girls golf and tennis started on their normal schedule. Volleyball started Aug. 22 as well as girl’s soccer. Field hockey began Aug. 25. Boys soccer began Aug. 26 and football begins Aug. 28 away at Barberton.

Feldman said they are working on the schedules for cross country because they are limiting them to duel meets instead of inviting a large number of schools to compete at one time. They also are scheduling with a gap between meets to allow players to leave before another group arrives.

The Ohio Department of Health has given orders about facial coverings and social distancing. Feldman said there are compliance officers at the sporting events to remind everyone to wear masks and follow the rules.

“We’re getting some complaints about two tickets but most people understand,” Feldman said. “The families get to be involved and support their child, and the students get to play.”

Feldman and Campbell said they are working on ways to stream the athletic events for online viewing.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com