For those clinging to the possibility of checking out a high school basketball game this winter, you’re likely out of luck.
Responding to a survey that was sent out by the Rhode Island Interscholastic League and discussed at Monday’s Principals’ Committee on Athletics meeting, 37 member schools are in favor of not allowing spectators to events staged in on-campus gymnasiums. The lone exception would be to permit senior parents on the designated Senior Day.
Based on the feedback from the survey and the executive board of the Rhode Island Athletic Directors Association, the PCOA unanimously supported the motion for fan-less basketball games other than Senior Day in order to better ensure the health and well-being of the players and coaches.
In terms of interscholastic events that are scheduled to take place at off-campus venues, the RIIL is going to leave it in the hands of the managers of those facilities to make a ruling regarding the presence of fans. Already, however, word is filtering out that, like basketball, many winter sports will be noticeably quiet.
The city of Providence has already declared that no spectators will be permitted for indoor track and field meets at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house. Some of the swimming venues aren’t big enough to accommodate fans for a sport that will be competing in virtual meets at separate pools.
With enough spacing inside hockey rinks to allow everyone to properly socially distance, hockey games represent the best and probably the only opportunity for a limited number of fans to be on hand for a game-in, game-out basis. At Adelard Arena in Woonsocket, it’s been confirmed that high school hockey games will include the presence of two spectators per athlete.
For those wondering why hockey games are allowing fans while basketball games won’t (other than for Senior Day), it costs a little bit more to run a rink than it does to turn on the lights to a gymnasium for a basketball game.
With limited or no spectators at events, the PCOA on Monday talked about the importance of finding alternative ways for people to be able to watch games. Many schools have explored the idea of broadcasting games via the Facebook Live feature. Another high-tech option that some schools are considering is installing an automated camera in the gym through the NFHS Network.
For the indoor track community, the plan is to livestream all the dual meets either on the NFHS Network or oceanstaterunning.com. Inside the Providence Career Technical Academy, cameras will be placed at the finish line and near the throwing area.