Farewell Football Game Fun

New football spectator guidelines are nonsensical and hypocritical


Hartley Hill

Hillsborough County Public Schools are limiting attendance to football games. The new spectator guidelines permit each participant to invite four people to attend.

Hartley Hill, Copy Editor

While written with positive intentions and for the well-being of participants and fans, the new spectator procedures under the Hillsborough County Public Schools Return to Athletics plan are flawed. They fail to prioritize students and will likely create more disorganization and confusion in an attempt to social distance.  

First and foremost, HCPS guidelines for returning to school and returning to sports completely contradict each other. Hundreds of students are currently crammed inside a cafeteria with no masks on at lunch during school for nearly an hourso why is there an issue with students being next to one another outside in the stands at a football game with masks? 

According to the county’s plan, each sport participant “will have the opportunity to identify four spectators to attend home games,” meaning each football player, band member, cheerleader and Dancero may invite up to four family members and/or friends 

Given the ginormous number of students involved in one of these four activities, having that number of participants times four in the stands will produce packed stadium, making social distancing questionable 

For example, on the home spectator seating diagram in the Return to Athletics handbook, only 66 groups of four fit in the stands. The Plant football team alone has over 66 participants, so how can this policy allow for so many more spectators invited by the participants in other three activities? The diagram was modeled off of Plant City High School’s stadium, which looks to be about 2/3 the size of Plant’s stadium. Although Plant’s stadium is bigger, there is not nearly enough seating to practice social distancing if every participant has four spectators a piece attend. 

The plan also provides that each “participant’s pods will be required to sit together,” requiring students to potentially sit with other parents to whom they are not related. Forcing parents and students into pods of four will certainly strip away the fun social benefits of football games. Parents generally love attending football games to socialize and interact with other parents, and students do the same with other students. 

Seating parents and students together will cause more exposure, seeming more dangerous to parents who are at high risk of COVID-19However, if there were separate student and parent sections, students would not be exposing older family members and could instead be surrounded with other students with whom they are already exposed at school.  

Most importantly, this plan poses a challenge for other students wanting to attend football games that may not know someone who can offer them a ticket. This leaves students who want to engage in traditional high school football games at a disadvantageWhile inviting family members is undoubtedly important, all students should have the ability to attend football games. It is a beloved high school tradition that many look forward to.  

That tradition at Plant also includes an energetic student section, which is taken away by these absurd new guidelines. As a senior, I am especially devastated, knowing that I will never be able to experience painting up and throwing baby powder in an electric student section that I have admired and awaited for years. Like so many others – especially seniors – I feel pulled around like a helpless puppet as I have no voice in this matter. 

However, I believe that having a student section, instead of sitting in pods of fours, is possible with mask requirements and social distancing. As a student, here is my proposition: ieach participant is limited to only two guests instead of four, there could be more room designated to students while still providing space for familyShall there be a limited capacity of students, seniors should be prioritized followed by juniors, sophomores, then freshmen.  

If students are allowed to eat inside a cafeteria with no masks, they should be allowed to stand outside and cheer on their school with masks. A Yale study even found that patients were 19 times more likely to catch coronavirus indoors than outdoors. Thus, allowing students to sit together at football games is safer than what students are already permitting at school. As such, the current plan is nonsensical and hypocritical. 

Yes, Hillsborough County is trying to keep school communities safe in the new seating guidelines. However, what seems safe and simple on paper will most likely create havoc among participants choosing who to invite, students scrambling to find someone to invite them, and administrators finding ways to socially distance with potentially hundreds of spectators being in Dad’s Stadium