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Elder - La Salle game offers model for social distancing during high school football season

La Salle Elder The Pit.jpg
Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 18:52:03-04

CINCINNATI — Friday night at Elder High School, some fans witnessed a double-overtime thriller.

The game was decided on the final play of the game: a successful two-point conversion for La Salle.

It was one of the best high school games one could imagine, but at times, it didn’t feel that way.

“It just felt like – not a typical GCL South football game at “The Pit,” said La Salle Football Coach Pat McLaughlin.

Fans were spread out, and with one glance inside the stadium, you could tell things were different.

“The number one goal is still whatever we can do to give the kids a chance to play,” explained Kevin Espelage.

An orange beanbag was used to mark the spot of the football between plays, so referees did not need to touch the football.

There were large arrows pointing fans in specific directions and ropes guiding them along one-way paths. The ropes also separated players from fans, and allowed players to use part of the bleachers as extra sideline space.

“We created an extended bench into the stands, so when the offense and defense came off the field, they would go into the stands,” explained Espelage.

It’s not just the players, who utilize the bleachers during games this fall. The cheerleaders are doing the same thing.

“We’ve split the girls into three pods, so they cheer at different points in the stadium,” said La Salle Cheerleading Coach Shauna Walsh.

For the athlete, what you see on game day is just the final step in a long process. That process begins the moment players arrive at the field.

“Like scanning an item at Kroger, they take a picture of [the code] with their phone,” explained McLaughlin.

La Salle has a QR code system of checking-in players and screening them for sickness.

“There are seven questions on there, so we have instant data on COVID,” said McLaughlin.

Elder High School provided an online broadcast of Friday night’s double-overtime game, for a cost of $10 per subscription. The broadcast drew an audience of more than 1,500 subscribed viewers.