New spectator guidelines for VHSL sports

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 4:26 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - There are new spectator guidelines for high school sports in Virginia.

New restrictions put in place by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam last week will now limit youth, recreational and high school sports to a capacity of 25 spectators or 30% of the venue’s occupancy, whichever number is lower. In response, the Virginia High School League released a statement last Friday saying games can still be played, even with the limitations for spectators.

“We want to make it very clear that the Governor’s order for reduction in public and private gatherings to 25 individuals applies to “spectators” and not participants at those events,” said VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun. “Nothing in the order prevents VHSL member schools from holding contests.”

Local athletic directors in the Shenandoah Valley are now working to find ways to make the new guidelines work for the upcoming winter sports season. Practices are scheduled to start December 7 with high school basketball games slated to begin on December 21.

“I’d tell you, we’ve gotta be patient," said Strasburg athletic director Matt Hiserman. "Obviously it’s going to start soon but (parents/fans) need to understand that us as athletic directors across the (Shenandoah) Valley, across the state, we are working day-in and day-out on trying to come up with the best solutions to try to get our parents to see their kids play when we do get to that point.”

Five weeks still remain before games are scheduled to start. Decisions on who will be allowed to attend high school sporting events could come at the city, county, or district level. Athletic directors are preaching patience as they await more guidance and information from the state and VHSL before making decisions about spectators.

“Our first basketball game here is December 23 so that seems years away," said Wilson Memorial athletic director Craig Flesher. "Let’s pump the breaks and get through the Thanksgiving holiday and see where we are in December...Let’s be patient, as hard as it is, because we don’t know what December holds.”

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