Middle school sets fall sports fan plan

M.P. Regan
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Dillon Elementary School District #10 Board of Trustees at its monthly meeting last week approved a plan put forth by the district’s administration on one of the hot-button issues of the new school year.

Fans at football games and other fall sporting contests.

“There’s been a lot of questions to me, not just from our parents in our community, but you wouldn’t believe how many emails I’m getting from other parents in other communities, wondering what our fan policy is going to be,” said Dillon Middle School Principal Joel Rogers prior to the board’s unanimous approval of the plan for fan attendance at events for fall DMS sports—football, volleyball and cross country.

Under the plan, each studentathlete who dresses for a contest will be offered four tickets to distribute to members of his or her immediate family, as will each visiting player dressing for a game or meet in Dillon, with coaches limited to two tickets.

“It’s a little more liberal than some of the other programs out there, but it’s not unlike most of the programs out there,” noted SD #10 Superintendent Randy Shipman, who worked with the district’s athletic director, Rogers, in crafting the plan.

“One thing we don’t want to do as part of this proposal is to allow these tickets to be transferable,” cautioned Shipman, “they are set aside for that child’s immediate family.”

“We feel that four will accommodate most of those families,” commented Shipman.

“Once in a while, you have a family of five and things like that. We will work with those people,” continued Shipman, who will police the policy’s enforcement at the events, along with Rogers, including the enforcement of the plan’s restrictions on people who do get tickets, including on where they can and cannot watch the contests.

“There are two little bleachers, but it’s basically standing,” said Shipman of the fan viewing options at the DMS football field.

“But there isn’t really seating to speak of, and the bleachers are so small that to socially distance you might get three or four people in them. We will reserve those for maybe handicapped or older folks,” explained the SD #10 superintendent.

“What we would ask people to do is to pick a spot and stay in it. As long as you do that, you don’t have to wear a mask and can socially distance. We reserve the right to kick anybody out, and I’ll be happy to do that if they can’t follow the rules,” vowed Shipman.

“A lot of times what will happen if a team is going down to score, then the whole crowd moves down toward the goal line. We’re not going to allow that. You need to pick a spot and stay there.”

Rogers said siblings of players will also be prohibited from migrating toward one another during contests.

“We will also be asking families to stay together. I know elementary boys like to go out to the end zone and play their pickup games. That kind of stuff is unfortunately not going to be able to happen,” said the DMS principal.

Shipman said local fans will need to abide by the restrictions set by opposing teams when the Dillon teams play on the road.

“When we do go on the road we are bound by our opponents’ rules,” said Shipman, who also outlined some of the precautions SD #10 will take when sending kids to away games.

“When we do enter the bus, we’ll take our children’s temperatures,” said Shipman.

“They are socially distanced on the bus. They must wear masks on the bus. It will cost us more money to transport kids—instead of taking one bus, we may have to take three or four buses,” said Shipman of the need to create more space for student-athletes to stay at least six feet apart on buses.

“We are taking all those precautions for our athletes,” said Shipman, who also pointed out why the district is going to all the trouble to continue with sports during the pandemic.

“We still want to have our children to experience the activity—we still want them to compete, we still want them to learn sportsmanship, and teamwork and camaraderie and all those things, as well as the skills of the sport,” said Shipman.

“I think the most important thing is that our kids are able to participate. They have lost so much, too much.”

The plan will be reconsidered before the start of winter sports, such as basketball.

“It’s important to mention we are just talking about the fall right now. It could very well be that things change by winter,” said Shipman.

“We will have to revisit this at the at October’s board meeting,” advised Shipman.

“Who knows what’s going to happen? Obviously, you know, cases could go way up,” said Shipman of a scenario that would cause new restrictions from county and state officials.