GALLIPOLIS — Football Friday Night is fast approaching, though this will not be a typical start to the Blue Devils’ season.
On Tuesday, Gallipolis City Schools Supt. Craig Wright and Gallia Academy Athletic Director Adam Clark posted a brief overview of what fans can expect this season when it comes to all fall sports at Gallia Academy High School. The entire conversation can be viewed on the city schools Facebook page.
As previously reported by Ohio Valley Publishing (OVP), Lance Himes, interim director of the Ohio Department of Health, signed an order providing mandatory requirements for youth, collegiate, amateur, club and professional sports, earlier this month.
The order states the maximum number of individuals gathered in any outdoor sports venue must be lesser than 1,500, or 15 percent of the fixed seating capacity. For indoor facilities, the maximum number of individuals gathered shall be lesser than 300 spectators or 15 percent of the fixed seating capacity.
It was recommended that school and organization officials prioritize ticket distribution or event access to participants’ families and household members if possible.
Noting those state guidelines, on Tuesday, Clark reported the football stadium attendance is to be at only 15 percent capacity. With the addition of some bleachers around the track area, this means attendance will be capped at 566 people – these people will include those with pre-sold tickets and are limited to athletes, cheerleaders and band members who will each be allotted four tickets for their families, and 180 tickets will be reserved for the visiting team.
Adding the additional bleachers allowed the four tickets per student athlete, cheerleader and band member to occur and is only for home football games. With three home and three away games this fall, Gallia Academy will also be offered the hospitality of reserved tickets as the visiting team for football games, however ticket numbers will vary at each school depending on seating capacity.
Social distancing (keeping six feet part) and mask wearing are required to attend all fall sporting events. Families may sit together in a group, also described as “pods” (people that live in your household).
Both Clark and Wright said the school is required to have enforcement of these safety guidelines, including social distancing and mask wearing at events, and in addition, the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) will be doing spot checks at various schools (for various sporting events) to ensure these rules are being followed.
“If they (OHSAA) see something they don’t like, they can shut us down at any time so let’s continue to do the right thing and let these students not only start but finish the season,” Clark said.
Wright also stated live streaming of the football games will be offered for free on some of the district’s Facebook pages, with financial sponsorship providing the opportunity to fans who cannot attend the games.
The blacktop area near Memorial Field will be handicapped parking only, there will be parking on the side in the grassy area but no tailgating or cooking of food or congregating of people – it will be strictly used for parking.
Updates on other fall sports were as follows:
Soccer – at this time, there is unlimited seating though everyone must maintain six feet of social distance, maintain wearing face coverings/masks and sit with family members in groups or “pods.”
Volleyball – this is an indoor event and with limitations of 15 percent of total attendance, that still means the gym can accommodate 270 fans, which is under the maximum number of individuals gathered ordered to be less than 300. This also means more than likely, tickets will be available at the gate for purchase. Everyone must maintain six feet of social distance, maintain wearing masks/face coverings and sit with family members in groups or “pods.”
Cross Country – only one home meet is set for this year on Sept. 8. Like soccer, there are no attendance restrictions but once again everyone must maintain six feet of social distance, maintain wearing masks/face coverings and sit with family members in “pods.”
Golf – the season has already begun with students golfing only with teammates and following similar social distancing recommendations as the other fall sports.
Fans and spectators who fail to following the safety guidelines will be asked to leave the event, according to Wright and Clark.
OVP’s Sports Team will be at this Friday’s home football games for both the Blue Devils and River Valley Raiders, in addition to covering all fall sports in the readership area for our print publications and websites. On Friday, Gallia Academy hosts South Point, while River Valley hosts Wellston on the gridiron.
Editor’s note: In regard to spectors, as reported above, by order of the Ohio Department of Health, only 15 percent of the stadium’s permanent seating capacity may be admitted into the game. Players, coaches, officials, cheerleaders, band members, game workers and media do not count toward that 15 percent capacity, according to the OHSAA. For more on OHSAA guidelines, see “sports” on page 7, or visit www.mydailytribune.com.
Alex Hawley contributed to this story.
© 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.