Athletes remark on new regulations for spectators at games, reflect on pros, cons


Luke Miller

Many students gather on Friday, Aug. 28 to watch a home game for the Carmel Greyhounds against Cathedral. The Hounds lost the game 44-28; however, on Sept. 11, the Hounds won in a double overtime thriller 45-44 over Pike high school.Many students gathered to show energy, despite the 250 spectator limit set by the IHSAA. Athletic director Jim Inskeep said he finds players are becoming more and more accepting of the changes.

Andrew Caito and Alivia Romaniuk

Around the world, sporting events are beginning to resurface, but with COVID-19 precautions in place, these events look far different than usual. Professional leagues, including the MLB, the NBA and the NHL, are conducting events without spectators. On Aug. 23, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the biggest sporting venue in the world, ran the Indianapolis 500 with all of its 235,000 seats empty.

Locally the IHSAA has decided to allow spectators to attend sporting events under certain guidelines. For example, attendance can not exceed 250 people, social distancing must take place, and schools must follow the guidance of the local health departments.
CHS Athletics Director Jim Inskeep said the coaches and athletes have been doing an excellent job with the new guidelines. But athletes have mixed reviews on these changes.

“I find that as the weeks go on, students and coaches are becoming more and more comfortable with the changes,” he said.
Lauren Rainbolt, varsity soccer player and junior, said she is disappointed the team had to make some adjustments, however she understands that the new precautions are necessary.

Lauren Rainbolt (right), varsity soccer player and junior, plays in the second half of her soccer game against Lawrence North high school on Sept. 8. Although Murray Stadium can only hold 250 people per IHSAA requirements, Rainbolt said she understands the precautions for keeping people safe. (Luke Miller)

“We usually have a big student section cheering us on, but because of COVID, we had to decrease the number of people at the stadium. So that has changed a lot from our games last year,” she said. Rainbolt added that she will miss pack-the-house night.
On the other hand, Cara Naas, varsity cross-country runner and freshman, said she had mixed feelings about the new spectator rules in cross-country. “I liked that there weren’t people in your face cheering,” she said. However, Naas added that she did miss having her family at the meets.

Cross-country spectator policies operate on a meet-by-meet basis. Some meets allow limited spectators, while others do not allow any spectators.

Inskeep said sporting events at this school have gone smoothly. “We’re fortunate because we have a facility where people can stand in a lot of areas, and watch the match, or they can bring in their bag chairs, which we have allowed at any of our event venues this year,” he said.

Inskeep added that there is elaborate signage at CHS venues, reminding spectators of social distancing and wearing masks.
Furthermore at home football games, in the student section there are lines six feet apart separating students while requiring them to always wear a mask.

Varsity starting quarterback and junior, Zach Osborne, said the players participate too, “Along the sidelines we are staying spaced out even more than usual, they allowed us to move down the sidelines ever further now lowering the risk of kids having to quarantine,” he said.

“We are faced with a challenge every Friday and we face it in the best we can while having to deal with all of the (social distancing) guidelines.”

While these guidelines are not ideal, athletes, understand their necessity.

“The worst regulation is being six feet apart,’’ Rainbolt said. “I’m a very social person and I like to get to know the people on the team. It’s really annoying but I want to have a season…so we just have to follow the regulations provided for us.”

Inskeep said he agreed. “I think everybody understands that there are changes that have to take place in order for us to have seasons and to have students in the building for the school year,” he said. “There is disappointment, for sure, but we’ve also tried to think about…ways in which we can deliver those contests and games to a greater audience because we have those limitations in place.”

At the end of the day, coaches and athletes said they are glad to be competing again, despite the changes.

Inskeep said, “We spent so much time this spring and then summer to get to that first day of team practices…when teams could get back together and start working out.

“There was so much time spent, with our protocols and the way we were going to be making changes, so to actually get to Saturday, Aug. 15, and to have so many of our teams competing on that day in our venues and on the road, was really kind of a special thing.

“I wasn’t sure we were going to get there at that point this fall and have sports and now that we’re about two month into it, definitely looks different but I can tell you that once a whistle blows, it looks just like it always has.”