WCHS athletic director Todd Willmore used the word “frustrating” when describing what some fans may experience during this high school sports season.
I think frustrating would certainly be the word I would use, perhaps even infuriating, if I drove for one hour and 10 minutes to see the Pioneers play Rockvale and couldn’t get in the gate.
Ticket restrictions in this COVID era are already creating headaches, especially with fans eager to see the 2-0 Pioneers in their first region battle tonight. Rockvale has announced only 200 tickets will be available at the gate for Warren County fans, perhaps creating a volatile situation if folks aren’t allowed in.
What’s probably most frustrating of all is that sports policies are all over the board. Nashville schools aren’t even playing football. Warren County is playing with attendance limited to one-third capacity at Nunley Stadium. Other schools are playing with fewer, or more, attendance restrictions.
College football is the same way with some schools and conferences opting not to play football at all. In the SEC, most schools plan to limit attendance to 20% to 25% of stadium capacity, which can range from 15,000 to 25,000 fans depending on the size of the stadium.
Some schools are trying to place a ban on tailgating, while others are allowing it. The prestigious Indianapolis 500, which was held Aug. 23, took place with no fans in the stands. But tailgating was allowed and some 20,000 people gathered in the parking lot to enjoy the fellowship, despite not being permitted into the race.
The NFL is charging ahead with its season and attendance policies are erratic. Some teams, including our Tennessee Titans, won’t have any fans in the stands for their first game.
The Dallas Cowboys are leaving the door open for the most fans on opening day, announcing 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium will operate at less than 50% capacity. In perusing other policies that have been announced, I didn’t notice any other team planning to have more than 25% capacity at its stadium.
In applying for press credentials earlier this week for the Titans, the team noted several new policies are in place. Perhaps the biggest change is members of the media will no longer be allowed to interview players and coaches in person after the game. All interviews will be conducted virtually.
It was also emphasized that no members of the media will be allowed on the field. Should I be granted one of the limited press passes, I will be assigned an area somewhere in the front row.
Willmore nailed it when he predicted there might be frustration. But, all things considered, this frustration beats the alternative of not having football season at all.