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High school sports crowds downsized for COVID-19 restrictions

Fall sports will look different because of the pandemic.
Fall sports will look different because of the pandemic.(Anderley Penwell)
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 9:09 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As the fall high school sports season gets underway, teams will be playing to greatly reduced crowds. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has ordered only family members to be in the stands for games, with crowds at outdoor events limited to 15 percent capacity of the stadium or 1,500 total fans, which ever number is fewer.

The order officially came out Wednesday night, and it has left school districts and athletic directors scrambling to come up with a plan.

Greg Dempsey, football coach and athletic director at Central Catholic, said it’s been a difficult time for ADs around the state.

“The big fluctuating thing among schools is what is the size of your venues,” he said. “And then trying to figure out what’s the manageable amount of people you want to let in to control. Especially early on, we’re all just starting this together with 48 hours notice.”

Central Catholic is limiting crowds to four family members per player.

“How can those close-knit families that it’s important to have their family members supporting their kids as they’re playing their athletics, and make it possible for them to come and see them in a safe manner,” Dempsey said.

And that move goes in line with what other leagues are doing as well. For Perrysburg for example, family members will fill their max capacity quiet quickly. Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler says, “That means 795 tickets would be available for spectators.”

You have to add in the visiting team, so the Northern Lakes League has worked out a system for all it’s teams so there’s consistency.

“What we’ve decided is 75% of that number would be designated for home tickets and we also have 25% set aside for visitors, because that’s important too,” Hosler said.

At Maumee’s preview event Friday night, football players, band members, cheerleaders, and dance team members were allowed to request three tickets per family.

Other leagues are working out similar plans.

There is a 300 spectator limit for indoor sports like volleyball or 15% capacity; whichever is lower. There will also be a compliance officer appointed at all games at each school.

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