AHSAA updates COVID guidance for winter sports, limits fan capacity at games

AHSAA updates winter sporting event guidance for fans

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Districts now have a hard number for how many fans they can let into games. The new guidance released by state athletic officials also included a memo from the state’s top doctor and the state superintendent who both said it’s not safe to have to have large crowds cheering on players.

The energy at basketball games really comes from the crowd, but schools must now limit the number of cheering fans for the rest of the season.

“Biggest thing is reducing gym capacity to 20 percent,” said Darrell Long, Athletic Director of Jefferson County Schools..

State education, athletic, and health officials released updated guidance this week for schools to further limit fan capacity. Before, individual school districts decided what’s best.

In that memo, state superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said, “I am very concerned about the advent of winter sports - mostly due to the large indoor crowds they can attract.”

Birmingham City Schools athletic director Henry Pope said his schools had already been operating under 20 percent capacity and believes the restrictions will help with safety and keep the ball in play.

“I think it’s great that something is being done across to state to make sure everyone is following the same guidelines,” said Pope. “Safety is the most important part for us.”

Some schools have taken more drastic safety measures. Jasper High School is suspending winter sport competitions until next semester, with the athletic director saying, “the suspension in play will help flatten the curve and assist in limiting athlete exposure.”

Other districts say they will continue to adjust to the impact COVID has caused this athletic season

“On one side of the county things might be fine - on the other side of the county we have an outbreak. We’re dealing with that on an individual basis,” said Long.

Schools are also urged to delay the start of games or suspend competitions if fans aren’t complying with social distancing or wearing masks.

To read the updated guidance, click here.

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