And The Crowd Goes–Mild

Students question attendance guidelines for outdoor sporting events


William Bernier, Contributing Writer

Friday, March 26th, marked the first home football game for the Sailors since Thanksgiving of 2019. Anticipation was building for a big clash against the visiting Pembroke Titans following Scituate’s impressive win in Hanover. Everything was set for an exciting return home for the Sailors. Unfortunately, one questioned remained: who was going to be in the crowd? As of Tuesday before the game, it was announced that the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), officially allowed student attendance at games as long as high school administrators were on hand to monitor social distancing.

Word spread across SHS like a wildfire as many students made their plans to attend the Friday night game–just as they would during a normal football season. Unfortunately, the excitement was quickly extinguished: Following the EEA announcement, an email was sent by SHS Principal Dr. Lisa Maguire informing high school students that the administration would not make changes to the attendance rules for SHS students.

Students and players alike questioned the administration’s decision: Why couldn’t students attend an outdoor sporting event while maintaining social distance and wearing masks? (After all, in a few weeks, students will be returning to full-time learning indoors with three feet of distance between desks.)

This very question was posed by SHS senior Patrick DeMatteo in an email he sent to Dr. Maguire. In her response, Dr. Maguire explained that student fans attending the game would exceed the 12% outdoor capacity allowed by the town, indicating the decision wasn’t in the hands of the SHS administration.

Despite Dr. Maguire’s clear message, many students defied the decision and showed up to support their Sailors on Friday night. How so? Students watched the game from the hill and the baseball bleachers just past the fences of the football field and track. Although these students weren’t technically attending the game, they were still able to enjoy the game and watch their classmates who are members of the football team and cheerleading squad.

Since these students were unsupervised, there was a noticeable lack of social distancing as well as inconsistent mask-wearing. This leads to an important question: Wouldn’t it be safer to let students attend football games? Since students can watch the games from outside the football field, wouldn’t it be safer if they were monitored inside the sports complex and forced to maintain safety guidelines? 

To many students, attending Friday night football games is a high school ritual. With hundreds of SHS students returning to their full-time academic schedules on Monday, April 12th,  students are slowly moving toward the life they had before the pandemic.

Only time will tell if the safety measures taken at sporting events will be effective, but based on Friday night’s football game, changes still need to be made.