July 20, 2024


Science It Works

GSL football fans watch games from fence due to COVID restrictions

The football season only started a few weeks ago and GSL fans are not allowed in the stands.

CHENEY, Wash. — Families of high school football players in the Greater Spokane League are frustrated. They have not been allowed to watch their kids play from the stands. Instead, they are cheering them on from the fence line. 

A Cheney family told KREM 2, watching their son play football right now is bittersweet. Jackie Straley has watched her son Dylan play football since he was five years old. He’s now a senior playing outside linebacker at Cheney High School. 

“This is really what we always waited for,” Straley said. “His Friday Night Lights, to be sitting in the stand seeing our kid on the field.” 

This year is much different. The football season only started a few weeks ago. And GSL fans are not allowed in the stands.  

“It’s super quiet, it’s very weird,” Dylan Straley, Cheney HS football player said. “I’m glad to get to compete, but we definitely need fans back. It adds a whole another perspective to the game.” 

Under Washington’s Phase 2 guidelines, only a maximum of 200 people, including spectators, are allowed for outdoor sports.  

For Jackie and other parents, that means watching the games from the fence. 

“It’s definitely weird looking through a chain link fence watching your kid,” Jackie said. “I try to still cheer and be as loud as I possibly can.” 

GSL Director Ken Van Sickle understands their frustration. But the he says GSL’s hands are tied to the phase two restriction. 

“Believe me, we want the parents in the stands, supporting their kids and sharing those memories,” Van Sickle said.  

He said with larger schools, the number of athletes, coaches and support staff on the field have reached maximum capacity nearly every game.  

“One of the schools, they had to have some of the administrators that were inside the fence, actually step outside of it to make sure they were under the number,” Van Sickle said. “So, we’re counting every single body, every single person.” 

We asked if, at some point in Phase 2, parents could wait at the stadium for admittance until when there is enough capacity during a game. Van Sickle said the schools would communicate this to families.  

“That would be communicated out prior to the game, and we would give priority to senior parents, and initially we would start with the home team,” Van Sickle said.  

Parents have written letters to the Governor Jay Inslee’s office asking for separate guidelines for those on the field and the fans in the stands.  

“They have five weeks left, and that’s it for the rest of their lives, they’ll never be on the field again.” Jackie said. “We’ll never be in the stands watching them ever again. So really, it’s now or never. We need to make decisions, and do it quickly so we can at least enjoy a couple games in the stands.”

The governor’s office said there are no plans to change the current restriction at this time.  

The Washington Department of Health shared this statement: “Our goals have been to mitigate COVID-19 transmission while minimizing impacts on the economy, our children’s education and the mental health of our population. When developing guidance, we use science and data to make the best decisions possible at the time, and continue to review and make adjustments as needed. We are in the process of updating our outdoor sports guidance. We appreciate the feedback we have received and will have more to share when the updated guidance is ready to be released.”