BERNE, Ind. — Schools in Adams County will play sports this fall without the majority of fans in attendance.
The three high schools in the county — Bellmont, Adams Central, and South Adams — announced Monday that the general public will not be allowed to come to events.
Jason Arnold, the athletic director at South Adams Junior/Senior High School, says Adams County Health Officer Michael Ainsworth made the ultimate decision.
“We work with him, and the schools follow the lead of what he says,” Arnold said.
Arnold said in their meeting with Ainsworth, they were able to agree on a compromise — allow family members of the high school seniors to still come to the games.
“Being that this is the final go-around for the seniors, he felt that that was a good compromise.”
Every senior on each fall sports team is allowed to have up to four adults attend their contests.
That’s it, though. There will be no other fans, community members or student sections. Fans of visiting teams will not be allowed to attend unless two schools from Adams County are playing one another. Then those family members of seniors on the visiting team are allowed.
“It’s going to be crazy, with how silent these games are going to be,” Arnold said. “You’re looking at a potential crowd of 3,000 screaming fans being reduced down to less than 150 people.”
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Arnold understands that with the restriction on fans, it will mean that the athletic departments of the schools in Adams County will take another financial hit.
“The money that we get to run our department comes, almost solely, from all-sports season passes and ticket sales for our games, and without those funds, the money we have to operate is taking a massive hit this year,” he said. “But, I will gladly sacrifice that money if it means our kids have a chance to go out and compete. Not just compete in week one, but to have a chance to have as much of a season as we can.”
Arnold knows this isn’t a popular decision. He’s already heard and read some of the responses from parents and fans.
“This is a decision that we need to accept,” he said. “It’s a decision we need to respect.”
Arnold says if it helps the virus numbers stay low in Adams County, it’s a sacrifice they need to make.
“I know parents want to be there. I know fans want to be there. Ultimately, whether we like it or not, the decision is not about us. You know, by not having a mass gathering, we can help that potential spread. Because we all know, as soon as those numbers start to grow, the first thing that’s going to happen is that schools will be closed, it’s going to go all online, and sports are going to get canceled.”
Arnold wants to remind student-athletes, coaches, parents and fans of fall sports that they should try to remain positive, saying at least the season is still on for now, as compared to all the athletes and teams in the spring that had their seasons shut down before they even started.
“Keep that perspective, that you’re getting to play, and you’re still getting a chance to do what you love to do.”
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