Coaches combat COVID with new rules, regulations


Photo by Bella Thomas

Social distancing on bleachers, mandatory masks, and temperature checks are just some of the restrictions put into place to keep both fans and players safe.

Max Cedeno, Sports Editor

In past years, Palm Beach Central’s athletic events were notorious for their packed bleachers and long lines, but now, new regulations have re-imagined the scene on game nights. 

In early 2020, COVID-19 completely hit the world of sports with full effect. Professionally,  it caused multiple global events to be postponed and suspended, including the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. In college athletics, it terminated various major tournaments like NCAA March Madness.  The virus’ effects then spread to high school athletics as well causing coaches to rethink the season that is especially important to some high schoolers hoping to catch a college recruiter’s eye.

Nevertheless, organizations and communities nationwide have made it their responsibility to work around the difficulties presented by the pandemic and give student-athletes the opportunity to play again.

However, adapting to the new normal was only made possible through certain regulations and rules that both teams and fans must abide by. 

To begin, the usage of masks is now mandatory for any event. Bleachers are marked with multiple duct tape “X’s” to show the proper distance at which fans must sit apart. Those who arrive together can sit with each other, but the formation of large groups is advised against. 

At the entrances, stand staff members are tasked with checking the temperatures of those who walk in. Any temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit are not permitted to attend the event. 

One of the major objectives of the COVID-19 protocol is limiting physical interaction between people, so teams closed down all concession stands and adopted a new method to sell their tickets: Gofan. 

Gofan is an online application that gives teams a platform to sell their tickets online. Through the app, teams can limit the amount of tickets sold in advance and distribute them fairly to the player’s families, securing that an approved amount of people show up and that players can still make sure their loved ones can attend the games. 

For those who couldn’t secure a ticket or those who don’t feel comfortable attending in person, some teams have even begun to live-stream their games online for fans to watch at home. Sports teams have done a great job making it possible for everyone to still feel involved in the games while remaining safe. 

At Central, Coach Abel is in charge of the COVID-19 management across all sports teams, and he recognizes the pressure faced by administrators to handle athletics under the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Absolutely there is a lot of pressure. It doesn’t necessarily come from administration or the parents, but I feel like I owe it to the student athletes going through it that they get to play as much as possible,” shared Coach Abel.  “Administration has done a great job providing all of the materials like hand sanitizer and masks and fans have been very compliant with the new rules. A lot has changed in a year and we’re just trying to make sure everyone stays safe.”

Another significant challenge that the pandemic presented was finding ways to protect the players. Since the majority of sports require student athletes to be in physical contact with each other, changes had to be made without disrupting the ability to play the sport to the fullest extent. 

As a result, a detailed system of contact tracing was set up to combat the issue. At practices, every player and staff member present will have to sign in when they arrive. Any sign or symptom of a positive case would result in a lockdown for the team until matters can be situated. The team would undergo a 10 to 14 day quarantine period until all tests come back negative in order to protect other schools. Once everyone produces a negative test, the season will continue. 

During games, the player’s bench areas are distanced 6 feet apart from each other. Seating areas are misted and sanitised before and after every event and at the end of games. Players are not allowed to shake hands with the other team in order to limit contact as much as possible.

“I feel like they’re doing the best that they can do,” explained senior and varsity basketball team member Leonardo Puckering. “At the end of the day it’s the players and coaches’ decisions to decide if the risk is worth the reward of playing. I don’t think it’s completely safe but there’s nothing else that can be done to make it safer other than testing players weekly.”

These unprecedented issues have caused hardship to some degree for everyone, and making it possible to play sports in high school again brings back a slight level of normality back to people’s lives. So, a large thank you goes out to the coordinators and administrators that have adapted to the problems and presented schools with the opportunity to compete in the sports everyone loves. 

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