The Inland Empire League and Whitepine League will not allow fans at winter sporting events, the Idaho high school conferences announced recently.
The reports come as coronavirus cases surged in recent weeks and the state Saturday moved back to Stage 2 of the Idaho Rebound reopening plan, which prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.
The IEL and WPL determined that only athletes, coaches, personnel and essential workers will be allowed at events.
“We’re doing everything we can to get these kids a chance to play,” Moscow athletic director Lance Abendroth said. “We knew it was going to look totally different than a normal year.”
The IEL announcement came after a league meeting Monday and the WPL told its families Friday. The IEL includes 4A Moscow and 5A Lewiston, while the WPL consists of 1A Division I and II teams.
Moscow had previously allowed up to four fans per player at its games. There were no limits to fans at WPL events, but social distancing and masks were encouraged.
Abendroth said he’s grateful athletic events will continue in the state since that’s not the case in many places, including in Washington, because of high coronavirus rates.
The leagues can reconsider their bans on fans if Idaho moves to Stage 3. The rollback to Stage 2 was a response to a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases as Idaho surpassed 80,000 infections and 750 deaths over the weekend. The state has had more than 1,000 new cases nearly every day over the last two weeks.
The IEL schools plan to livestream their athletic events this winter when possible using Pixellot, a “fully automated live production” marketed to high schools.
The system connects to the school’s scoreboard, and can be hooked up to a radio broadcast or the announcer at the game, Abendroth said. The camera is unmanned and just follows the action.
“We want to make sure that regardless of where (the event) is held, it can be livestreamed for anyone who wants to watch,” Abendroth said. “Most of the places have the technology already in place.”
Stephan Wiebe can be reached at email@example.com, by phone at 208-883-4624 and on Twitter at @StephanSports.