WC Athletics introduce new spectator rules to “ensure us the best chance of having a complete spring season”

By Cecilia Cress

Elm Staff Writer

Since sporting events resumed on campus this spring semester, there has been confusion among students and families regarding the rules and policies for spectating.

According to the official Washington College Athletics website, the official policy for spectators as of March 11 is that no one from outside the WC community is allowed on campus to spectate games.

“WC students are obviously in our community, within our ‘pod,’ so they’re allowed to attend events as long as they are in compliance with the COVID[-19] policy on campus: maintain social distance, wearing a mask, etc.,” Director of Athletics Thad Moore said.

The policy is modeled from guidelines and recommendations from the Centennial Conference which were written to “ensure us the best chance of having a complete spring season without having a COVID interruption,” according to Moore. One such suggestion was a no-spectator rule.

While students on campus are allowed to spectate events, the rules for student spectators were modified from past seasons. 

Nobody is permitted to watch a sports event in an enclosed area with or near the athletes; however, students can be outside of these enclosed areas as long as they are socially distanced from both the athletes and each other.

“We do permit our students to watch our contests, albeit not in the stadium or the stands, but outside, typically up on the hill or out around left field, or out in the outfield for our softball facilities,” Moore said.

“For our sports, none of the spectators are going to be able to get close enough to the athletes, because for example, baseball and softball are in an enclosed area except for the warm-up pitching mounds and batting cages, but no one’s going to be sitting close enough for them. And then obviously in our lacrosse stadium, that’s closed off so no one’s going to be able to get close enough to our teams there either,” Moore said.

This policy has affected some of WC’s athletes who said they love having spectators at their sports events.

“I love having spectators. I thrive off of a loud, cheerful crowd. So, when I have people behind me that support me and are cheering us on, I get hyped up,” junior co-captain of the women’s tennis team Alisha White said. “With college tennis, a lot of people think it’s a quiet sport, but actually it can get pretty loud. It motivates and helps lift up someone when they’re down.”

While many athletes enjoy spectators of all kinds at their events, some said they especially miss seeing their families, who are not permitted to spectate this semester.

“Rowing is pretty safe, we’re not a contact sport, and it would be nice to have people watching us because, unlike other sports, no one is filming us. And it sucks for our parents because they can’t come down and watch us. They may get a fifteen second clip that a coach took of us out on the water, but that’s it,” junior and member of the women’s rowing team Skyler Hancock said.

“I feel terrible for our parents,” Thad Moore said. “And even [feel terrible for] the parents of our visiting teams because they want to see their sons and daughters compete. That’s the downside of this rule that we have to enforce.”

Moore said the spectator rule is being followed well by the WC community. Most of the confusion came from parents of athletes from visiting teams. 

According to Moore, the spectator policy may not stay in place for the remainder of the spring semester. It is open to possible changes depending on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Centennial Conference’s decisions.

“We were given the caveat [by the Centennial Conference] that we can revisit this policy as things change, so it will not necessarily be for the remainder of the spring. There may be some movement, but that would take a vote by the Conference presidents to change that guideline,” Moore said.

Featured Photo caption: After a new no spectator rule was adopted for non-Washington College students, some families and attendees experienced confusion while student athletes reflected on missing part of the competition experience. Elm File Photo.

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