STATEWIDE — Winter sports are on the horizon for high students across the state of Indiana.
With the coronavirus pandemic still in full swing throughout the United States, schools are making sure they have plans in place to keep their student-athletes safe while they compete. With that, all schools, whether private or public, are joining forces in Evansville in formulating a plan for winter sports.
“We are coming together to announce for our indoor sports we will limit the capacity of our spectators to two spectators per every participant,” said Dr. David Smith, the superintendent of the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation.
The Diocese of Evansville, Evansville Christian Schools, and Evansville Day School have all signed on to the plan in order to maintain consistency among every school within Vanderburgh County. EVSC athletic director Andy Owen says participants also include team managers and cheerleaders.
Owens said enacting these protocols is another opportunity to educate young people about the pandemic.
“Our job as athletic directors and educators is that students and families know the risk,” Owen added. “And all of our families have in the fall and they do in the winter and they are willing to see the reward from playing.”
The capacity limit rules will be enacted for both basketball games and wrestling matches, but not for swimming and diving. Owens said with many schools using the public Lloyd Pool for practice and swim meets, allowing fans to watch in person is too risky. No fans will be allowed to watch swimming and diving meets in person in Vanderburgh County.
In Fort Wayne, school leaders are being a little more specific for winter sports. East Allen County Schools also released their crowd size orders on Wednesday.
Exactly 48 people will be allowed on the home side and 24 on the visitor side for basketball games. At wrestling matches, there will be 120 fans on the home side and 60 on the visitor side. Cheerleaders will see 40 fans on the home side and 20 on the visitor side at their competitions.
The idea, according to the district, is to mainly limit crowds to just family members of the players or cheerleaders.
Mayor Lloyd Winnecke of Evansville said he spoke with IHSAA commissioner Paul Nehdig about the plan for winter sports. Winnecke said Nehdig told him that he felt comfortable enough to allow individual school districts to formulate plans based on what they felt is best for them and that no hard directive will be handed down by the IHSAA.