Crowd limit rules change again, drawing mixed reactions from athletes, parents


Alli Schroeder

Crowd limits have been eased by the state for both indoor and outdoor sports.

Purbalite Staff

Reactions today from athletes and their parents ranged from anger and frustration through understanding to Thursday’s court decision that at least temporarily reinstates crowd limits at sports events.

The state originally set COVID-19 crowd restrictions at 25 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events. A judge overturned those limits and the county announced last week that districts would be able to move to 50 percent capacity for both indoor and outdoor sports.

But the state appealed the judge’s decision, and on Thursday an appellate court said the crowd restrictions should stay in place until a decision is made on the state’s appeal. Since athletes, coaches, and referees are included in the crowd restrictions, this means that once again, either no family member or very limited numbers will be allowed at games, depending on the sport.

District Supt. Randal Lutz said the district wants more family members to be able to attend games, and continues to seek a solution.

Girls volleyball and cross country have been among the sports affected the most, since no spectators are allowed under the crowd restrictions. Last week, when the restrictions had been lifted, the girls volleyball team played only away matches, with parents from visiting teams not allowed to attend.

Senior volleyball player Lousia Tiriobo said the situation is upsetting. 

“I am frustrated that the rules keep changing,” senior volleyball player Lousia Tiriobo said. “My parents are disappointed they can’t go to games. They were looking forward to going to at least one.”

The volleyball team’s senior recognition night is currently scheduled for Oct. 15.

“I am hoping either the restrictions will loosen towards the end of our season, or we can have one outside so that we can have our closest friends and family there,” Tiriobo said.

Senior volleyball player Jess Noss is also upset about the restrictions.

“My parents have been to almost, if not all, of my games for volleyball for my whole life, so for them to not be able to watch me in what could be my final year really stinks,” Noss said.

Not having a crowd at the games has a big effect, Noss said.

My parents like to follow the rules because they want to do everything they can to put an end to this pandemic.”

— Zack Wyse

“They are responsible for our crowd noise, providing the extra energy,” Noss said. 

Baldwin student monitor Dayna Chapla, who is the mother of volleyball player Alexa Chapla, said the news was difficult.

“The timing is just unfortunate,” Chapla said. “It is aggravating that other sports teams can have fans, and how schools have set up for how all of us can be there, but now we can’t be there.” 

Cross country also cannot have fans at its races. Senior cross country runner Zack Wyse said he was upset about the limits, but he understands that these measures are necessary to keep the community safe.  

“I am thankful that my season is not canceled yet and we are still having races, even though there are no fans,” Wyse said. “My parents like to follow the rules because they want to do everything they can to put an end to this pandemic.”

It’s hard to think that we can’t sit in a huge stadium to watch our kids play even while we’re socially distanced.”

— Anthony Oliverio

The football team has had a rough time this season, with the team in quarantine for two weeks in September after an assistant coach tested positive for COVID-19. The Highlanders play Norwin on the road today and will play their first home game of the season next week — but with the crowd restrictions in place.

For football and soccer games, each athlete will receive two tickets to give to family members. Unless the crowd restrictions end up being lifted again, those are the only people who will see the games.

Anthony Oliverio, father of sophomore football player Tyler Oliverio, said he feels frustrated with the uncertainty revolving around the crowd limits.

“I understand that certain limits are necessary for those who are more at risk from the virus, but it’s hard to think that we can’t sit in a huge stadium to watch our kids play even while we’re socially distanced,” Oliverio said.

Oliverio said families just want a clear answer on whether or not they will be able to watch their children play this year, without having to worry about how many people can be present, or if there will be changes to the rules yet again.

Senior football player Luke Loeffert said his parents are frustrated about not being able to attend the games, but they are grateful for the live streaming service.

“They’re very upset about it, but at least they can watch the games online. It’s not ideal but we’re going to take what we can get,” Loeffert said.

Senior marching band member Trisha Miller is glad her parents can attend games, but is disappointed by the limit.

“We’ve been working really hard, plus this is my senior year,” Miller said. “It’s just disappointing that more people won’t be able to see it.”

Still, Miller said she understands and agrees with the limit.

“It is what it is. At the end of the day we need to be doing everything we can to stay safe and responsible,” Miller said. “I’m glad at least my parents will be able to show up and see the band’s performance.”

Editors Colton Brain, Lindsay Bonetti, Grace Hampton,  Maddison Houser, Mason Hurley, Elizabeth Perston, and Ethan Spozarski contributed to this report.