By Ray Hamill — The H-DNL superintendents’ decision to end the no-spectator mandate at all league sporting events next week has done little to placate the frustration of local sports fans, while simultaneously raising even more questions.
Two weeks ago, the superintendents voted 6-4 to temporarily ban all spectators from league sporting events because of concerns over the recent spike in COVID numbers, and, according to the league, the No. 1 priority was to avoid having to close schools for any length of time.
On Friday morning, the league announced that the superintendents have voted to amend that mandate and the new guidelines will allow for four family members of each student athlete competing to attend games.
Many people, however, believe that doesn’t go far enough and are also questioning why they were forced to wait until Monday with a number of key games scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
“Of course we are happy to get some spectators in the gym, but I am disappointed in the number and feel they easily could have more spectators allowed in safely,” said “Let Them Play Humboldt” advocate Nancy Vizenor.
Parents of split families, in particular, were left frustrated at the low number of family members allowed to attend.
“It’s a real challenge for them,” Vizenor said. “And I do not understand the logic.”
The concerns with the decision don’t end there either.
The new guidelines will run for the remaining three weeks of the 2022 winter sports season (not including the NCS or state playoffs), while the exclusion of students from games (unless they are included as a family member) makes little or no sense at all.
These are the same students who are around the student athletes all day at school — and ironically in PE class — yet the decision was made to exclude them from games.
Allowing students attend the games would not put H-DNL attendances over the “mandated CDPH defined Mega Events of 500 people or more, requiring Vaccine Verification or Negative Testing for all attendees,” which the press release referred to.
But it does significantly take from the high school experience for students and athletes alike, and the difference in atmosphere without student fans at sporting events is substantial.
And remember this is the third school year where the pandemic has had an adverse affect on these students’ lives.
“We are taking that experience away from the students,” Vizenor said. “I just wish (the superintendents) were prioritizing mental health and normalcy.
“This is impacting (the students’) childhood so much and that should be a real concern for them. If (the students) were anywhere else, this would be a different experience for them.”
Even more frustrating, the decision was taken solely by the league superintendents with no recommendation to do so from local health officials.
“A lot of people are frustrated because they don’t understand the science or logic behind it,” Vizenor said.