Sports Spectator Policy

Sydney Bruns, Broadcast Journalism

Many schools in the Morris County area have made a collective decision to temporarily set restrictions on attendance at school events due to the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant. Some of these regulations can include limiting the number of people allowed to attend the event, wearing masks, and buying tickets. These events specifically include sports and concerts. 

Winter sports have had to adjust under tough circumstances concerning the spread of the Omicron variant. On Tuesday, January 4, it was announced through email by Principal Drechsel that: “Madison High School will be restricting the number of spectators that will be permitted to attend home basketball (boys & girls) and wrestling events to two (2) family members per player/wrestler for all levels (V/JV/F)” This was put into effect on Wednesday, January 5. With these restrictions in place, Madison High School will be live streaming its events through the NFHS network. These events include basketball, wrestling, swimming, and track. The hockey team is the exception. There are no official restrictions placed on hockey games, as they play at Mennen Arena, which is not a school facility. Since many high schools play their games there, many of the schools decided to pitch in to employ a private company to broadcast the games, but, if one team does not agree to pay the fee, the opposing team needs to pay the full fee themselves or the game will not be streamed. The policy at the Mennen Arena says there is no limit to the number of people who can attend, but there is a mask requirement. 

Some other schools like Mendham High School, also are restricting two spectators per player and you have to register online to be able to attend the game. It is free and the spectators do not have to be a parent. St. Elizabeth High School requested only two spectators per player, but in no way monitored the attendance. While other schools, like Morris Knolls and Kinnelon, have no official policy in place.

Even though there is a restriction on going to the games in person, there still is a way you can watch and support your local sports teams. This is through the NFHS network. The NFHS network streams live and On Demand high school sports. The NFHS Network covers 27 different regular season and postseason sports, including other high school activities, like concerts. To watch, you have to sign in and pay a subscription fee.  Then, you can select any event that you would like to watch from any school across the country that uses the network. Even with this new source for watching sports online, there can be a problem with connection and movement. Another negative is that schools do not have control over away games and if they stream their games on NFHS. Unfortunately, some schools, including St. Elizabeth, do not use the NFHS network, which means some spectators have no way to watch the game.

Throughout this hard time of the new Omicron variant, schools have been creative in the ways they will try to work around these restrictions. But there is hope that spectators will be able to return to in-person watching, maybe even before the end of January.


Alexis Fasolas