When Section XI announced last week that it was opening the doors to spectators for the upcoming fall season, which opened up on Monday, the governing body of high school athletics in Suffolk County left the door open for school districts to create their own requirements.
The county is allowing no more than two people per student-athlete, for both for indoor and outdoor sporting events, subject to facility capacities. The only difference is that no spectators are allowed for visiting indoor teams, such as volleyball, girls swimming or gymnastics.
Section XI Executive Director Tom Combs said schools may be more restrictive if they choose to and many of the districts on the South Fork have indeed molded their own restrictions. The following are the plans for each school on the East End that is hosting varsity games and matches.
It’s important to note that most schools, if not all, are live streaming many of their games on a number of different platforms, many through their district’s social media accounts, such as Facebook. Some games will also be featured on the NFHS Network, a live streaming company that films high school games across the country at nfhsnetwork.com.
Many school districts are going along with the county’s initial rule of two people per student-athlete, but almost all school districts, East Hampton included, is specifying that those two spectators be the parents of their own athletes. East Hampton is issuing a pair of passes to each athlete specifically for their parents, who will be asked to show those upon walking up to the field or the court.
East Hampton Athletic Director Joe Vasile-Cozzo noted that the school is not allowing any visitor spectators whatsoever, for indoor or outdoor sporting events, at this time.
The Sag Harbor School District is in a unique situation due to the fact that it uses the publicly-owned Mashashimuet Park for many of its home games. For that reason, the school can not limit people coming to the park, but it can and will be enforcing the county’s guidelines in and around the general vicinity of where the games are being played. Mask wearing and social distancing will be enforced by school chaperones, according to a district email that was sent out on Monday, the first day of the fall season.
One of the school’s most successful programs, field hockey, will only have two home matches all season, limiting the number of games at the park and school.
There will be no spectators allowed, home or away, for volleyball matches. The district will be livestreaming each match. There will be two spectators allowed per athlete for games that are being played on school grounds. Pierson Athletic Director Eric Bramoff said he won’t be using passes or identification cards to give to each athlete, but will keep an eye on the number of people at each game and decide whether to limit capacity on a game-by-game basis.
There will be no visiting spectators allowed, indoors or outdoors, at Southampton, Athletic Director Darren Phillips said. Like many other districts, Southampton is also limiting the county’s two-spectator rule specifically to the parents of its student-athletes. Each athlete will be given spectator passes for both parents who will have to show them to enter a game or match.
Phillips said that possibly later in the season he can ease restrictions and possibly open the school’s grounds more.
“We’ll see how everything goes to start,” he said. “A lot of this is new to everyone, and some of it poses some challenges. But it’s nothing we can’t do. We would just like to start getting our own spectators in and seeing how that goes before we start letting visiting spectators in.”
The Baymen will be strictly adhering to the section’s rule of two spectators per student-athlete. They will not be specifying it to the student-athlete’s parents and will instead go by the numbers, according to athletic director Drew Walker. For example, if there are 27 soccer players on the field, 54 spectators would be allowed into the game.
For home indoor meets, such as girls volleyball and gymnastics, Hampton Bays will only be allowing the parents of senior athletes to attend, and limiting that number to two per athlete.
Each varsity, junior varsity and junior high athlete at Westhampton Beach will be given IDs for both of their parents to attend games and matches. Parents must show those IDs to gain entry.
Westhampton Beach is not allowing visiting spectators for indoor or outdoor events. Home spectators will be asked to leave the gym after one contest, even if they can attend the next contest. For example, if there is a junior varsity volleyball match at 4:30 p.m. with a varsity match to follow, all spectators will be asked to leave and then re-enter for the following match.
Home football games, which have historically started at 6 p.m., will now start at 4 p.m.