What Does It Take to Be a Good Spectator?

The Right Tools and Planning

Youth sports continue to reopen, but attending as a spectator may come down to following smart etiquette. Coaches need to not only have a strong plan in place for the team, they need to build in considerations for parents and other non-player spectators. When spectators are allowed to attend games or practices, how do you establish a strong plan to protect the health of everyone in your community? How do you conduct yourself as a parent or fan to ensure the safety of you and your community at a game? 

Smart planning with the right tools to help keep sports safe and open.

How You Can Keep the Return to Play Going

Being a spectator in COVID means you are part of the team. Just as kids shouldn’t show up for practice or competitions while symptomatic, neither should you as a parent or spectator attend a game if you have symptoms. Children’s Mercy in Kansas City (https://www.childrensmercy.org/health-and-safety-resources/information-about-covid-19-novel-coronavirus/returning-to-community-activities/recommendations-for-a-safe-return-to-sport-and-physical-activity-after-covid-19/) notes, “Self-reporting all symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not only decrease the spread but will also help keep athletes playing their sport.” They also present some clear guidelines that are smart practices for all communities:

“There should be no fans or parents congregating at practice. If physical distancing can be maintained, limit the number of spectators at events based on local, state guidelines.

  • Consider masks for all spectators.
  • Encourage Temperature/Symptom check before entrance into practice/games.
  • Ensure there is plenty of soap/water and hand sanitizer.
  • Consider a sign-in roster for spectators, athletes, coaches and officials to allow for contact tracing.”

Even if you are not symptomatic, taking into account the number of cases where you live and where the game is taking place before deciding to attend is a smart way to keep yourself safe. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/attending-sports.html)

If you do make it to your child’s game how should you behave? It’s natural to cheer and shout at a game. To sit in silence when a goal is made or your child crosses home plate would go against every fan instinct. Keep in mind that cheering and shouting can also accelerate the transmission of particles in non-symptomatic COVID carriers. So, per the CDC recommendations, consider alternative methods of showing enthusiasm for the sake of those around you. Stomping, clapping, or using noisemakers is a good alternative option that will keep the energy up and celebrations safe. 

These small considerations can seem like splitting hairs but being aware and taking small steps can have big impacts on you, the community and the future opening of youth sports.

Is It More Than a Numbers Game?

Even with these guidelines, how many is too many at a game? How do you determine who gets to attend and who might have to watch a live stream from home? The CDC has some thoughts about how to rethink numbers: “the number that can attend should allow groups from different households to remain at least 6 feet apart from each other. Rather than focusing on an ideal number, emphasis should be placed on the ability to reduce and limit contact between people.” It’s more than how many buns are in the seats. It’s a matter of how you can provide safe distancing both in the stands and in the entrances and exits as people come and go. 

Coaches and facilities should communicate expectations of spectators with social distancing both in the seats and in the hallways. Creating an atmosphere of safety while enjoying the love of the game is easy with a smart plan in place.

Some Tools to Keep Health in Check

Smart plans come with smart tools. With the different variables to consider, the TeamSnap Health Check feature can simplify safety management for non-player attendees at your game. The same features that keep track of player health can be used by coaches or administrators to monitor spectator health. 

To set up attendees, you will need to add them to the roster as a non-player and then invite them to your team. Once they accept the invite, the non-player will “toggle” to their profile to complete the Health Check, making sure they are in fact on theirs and not their child’s. Within eight hours of the game (and not before that time) any potential attendee on the non-player roster can submit a health check before arrival. If you want, you can even have them mark their Availability for contact tracing purposes—removing the need for sign-in sheets.

Keeping sports on the path to reopening can include parents and fans at games with the right tools and strong guidelines for attendees. Following proper etiquette as an attendee and with a little forward-thinking, you can celebrate the wins and plays from a distanced spot as you support your home team, and your community.

Kendall Ruth is a writer, photographer, and strategist finding the best ways to tell resonating, re-humanizing stories. You can find him at kendallruth.com, kicking the soccer ball with his kids, or out on a long trail run.

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