Football faces challenges during the pandemic

Football+faces+challenges+during+the+pandemic

Megan Childress, Sports Editor

Around this time last year, students, teachers, parents, and Mount Pisgah fans alike packed the stadium at Savior field to watch the Patriots take the football field. However, this year’s home opener against Wesleyan looked quite the opposite.

    With the stadium at half capacity, the student section empty and quiet, and the drumline off to the side, it looked and felt odd for anyone in attendance. On top of that students, aside from siblings of players and children of volunteers, were nowhere to be found. 

   The call that no students would be allowed to attend the first home game was made in order to keep players and other spectators at the PAC safe. It also allowed for the school’s COVID-19 response team to have a chance to see if they need to make any changes to the protocols already set in place. 

     “[For right now] we’re allowing parents, grandparents and siblings,” said head of school Ruston Pierce. “Tonight, our goals are to watch and see how it looks. We are going to see how people are dispersed and see how easily controllable it is. And then, hopefully, over the course of the season, [we] continually add more and more [spectators]. So, for example, if we can allow seniors in…, then we will but we can’t make that decision until we see what it looks like tonight.” 

Mount Pisgah, along with all other schools in the Georgia High School Association, GHSA, has a protocol to go about the regulation and safety of games. However, GHSA is not requiring all schools to have the same protocol for games of all sports. 

“They [GHSA] left it up to every individual school,” said Pierce.  “There was… a region meeting and they tried to get everybody in the region to do the exact same thing. [However] no one would agree to do the same stuff. The large majority are following the same policy. So for example, Wesleyan has the same policies that we do.” 

This presents an issue because each school within GHSA has had to develop their own protocols based upon what they feel will keep players, spectators, and anyone else in attendance safe. 

“Every school in the region has [to state] what their protocols are,” said Pierce. “If [we] go over to Whitfield for a volleyball game, we have to contact all of our volleyball parents and let them know in advance what the protocols will be at Whitefield.”

Pierce, along with a team of other administrators, worked to develop a plan to ensure the safety of players, coaches, and spectators of the game by putting in place numerous protocols including, but not limited to, temperature checks at the entrance gate, enforcing mask wearing when moving about, and controlling the number of people in bathrooms. This also includes the cleaning of benches and the stands after the game is over. 

“After the game ends and everyone leaves….  we have those hydrostatic sprayers that cover everything,” said Pierce. “So they’ll walk up in the stands and walk through spraying…. the sprayers engulf everything so it’ll literally cover every square inch of the bleachers, every square inch of the benches, and overnight they’ll just sit there and kill anything.” 

Since these protocols have been put into place, many students wonder when they can return to cheering on their friends from the stands. This, in turn, led to the proposition of students parking in the spots across from the stadium and watching from their trunks. 

However, this poses another issue because who is to stop students from congregating or or going from car to car? 

“Because… somebody has to be over there manning [the students] and constantly telling people to move apart constantly and separating people,” said Pierce. “[At most games] parking is gonna be at capacity anyway even with just the parents. So, when you add a bunch of people in the parking lot on top of that, it makes the police officers jobs really difficult.”

However, seniors were given permission to attend the second and third football games of this season.

Through a google form, seniors signed up to attend the games. The form allowed the administration to know who was going so that they were able to crowd control.

The seniors were spaced out in the bleachers in the student section where marks were made six feet apart. Seniors still have made the most of the situation and cheered on the football team the past two games.

Overall, this football season has looked quite different than it has in the past. Despite this, the football team has not let this stop them.

The team started with a hard loss against Wesleyan, but has since rebounded with two straight wins against Mount Paran and Walker.

With safety protocols in place, the future of the team looks bright.