Winter sports still on


Photo by Emma Nguyen.

Senior Ryan Elick cheers on his team from the sidelines while wearing his required mask, one of the regulations set by the IHSAA.

Emma Tomlinson, Photo Editor

Guided by executive orders from both the Governor of Indiana and the City of Fishers, regulations concerning attendance and participation in IHSAA sanctioned events will be increased. Attendance at games is now limited to players, coaches, support staff and immediate family members.

“We’re just here to play basketball, so we don’t worry about the crowd too much,” senior varsity basketball player Katie Burton said. “I think that as a team we do a good job of giving each other noise and hyping each other up though.”

Attendees are required to wear face coverings at all times and be seated in accordance with social distancing protocols. While not competing, athletes are also required to wear a face covering. Although these guidelines were already in place previously, the administration has assured concerned parents that they will be enforcing them more strictly. 

Suzanne Grannan is the Medical Director for Pediatrics at Community Health Network. Over the course of the pandemic she has worked with children diagnosed with COVID-19, guiding families on proper care and precautions to take.

“I’d advise student-athletes to wear their masks while not in active play, practice good hand hygiene and avoid sharing equipment,” Dr. Grannan said.”I know it’s hard with sports like basketball where everyone is handling the same ball, but I’d suggest wiping down your hands and not touching your face after you finish playing.”

The number of attendees may also be limited by the capacity of the venue and the ability to properly socially distance. Dr. Grannan suggests allowing a certain number of fans per athlete in accordance with venue capacity rather than the current limit of just immediate family members. Although the district and IHSAA try to promote social distancing at sporting events, oftentimes fans are packed right next to each other on the bleachers. 

“There are usually a lot of people at swim meets so I feel like having less people attending is safer,” sophomore Chris Tran said.

Winter sports are more dangerous when it comes to COVID-19 than fall or spring seasons because they take place indoors rather than outside according to Dr. Grannan. The combination of less ventilation and people in close proximity within enclosed spaces makes attending games dangerous for both players and fans, even while wearing masks and taking proper precautions.

“I think that if schools had the ventilation systems that professional sports teams do, playing inside would be a lot safer,” Dr. Grannan said. “Unfortunately, schools don’t really have the budgets to replace those systems.”

Each winter sport poses concerns to medical professionals. In basketball, almost every member of both teams has contact with the ball. 

“We know that some sports are more dangerous when it comes to the transmission of COVID-19,” Dr. Grannan said. “For example, wrestlers are in the closest contact possible with each other.”

Swimming and diving also concerns experts. The pool deck at swim meets is often crowded with athletes, coaches and volunteers. Temperatures within the natatorium are often hot and humid, making it difficult for some to breathe while wearing a mask, which may prompt athletes and spectators to remove their masks for a couple breaths of fresh air. 

“I’m grateful that at least we get to have our season,” Burton said. “All this going on makes us want to play even harder because you never know when your last game is going to be.”

Due to rising case numbers, neighboring states of Illinois and Kentucky have put winter sports seasons on hold until the beginning of 2021. Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has been reluctant to cancel or reschedule sports, instead passing a series of new mandates and social distancing guidelines. As of Dec. 4, neither the City of Fishers or the Governor Holcomb has indicated that sports will be cancelled, although the city’s risk rating is currently Level 4, severe.