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How winter sports games could look with limited or no fans

Kansas area schools limit or prohibit fans at winter sports games due to COVID concerns.
Kansas area schools limit or prohibit fans at winter sports games due to COVID concerns.(KWCH)
Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 9:36 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - High school winter sports are hoping to get off the ground this year as the KSHSAA Board of Directors will vote on a proposal to delay the start of winter sports until January 15th.

The Jayhawks, Shockers and Wildcats all tip off this week, along with the Newman Jets.

Newman University athletic director Joanna Pryor said, “It’s difficult. It’s difficult for planning purposes. We were planning for about 25 percent capacity and then when we got the county order it was quiet a switch.”

It’s been a bumpy start to the season for Newman University’s basketball programs. Pryor and women’s coach Darin Spence both said COVID-19 restrictions are making players change how they play the game.

Pryor- “I think it also puts a little bit more on the players as well because they really have to add a lot of that energy that’s happening during the game because they don’t have the fans.”

Spence said, “The way the county changes it’s restrictions, they could say no fans whatsoever and then they could come back and say no basketball. We just have to put it in God’s hands and roll with the punches.”

“We have thought about piping in some music and we may do that and some crowd noise as we go further,” said Pryor.

Newman University is able to allow a small number of family members in to watch games, but some universities are not allowing any fans. With the new KSHSAA proposal, this too could be what high school games this winter look like: empty stands.

Campus High School’s boys’ basketball coach Chris Davis said, “I hope the powers that be look at everything, look at statistics and look at the kids. Let football finish and let’s go. And if they keep spectators out of the gym, that’s fine with me but doggonit, let these kids play.”

KSHSAA will vote on how the beginning of the season will look and when; that will be on Tuesday.

This past week, Davis spoke with his players. And former derby player, Sydney Nilles heard from her old teammates. They all said fans or no fans, they just want to play basketball.

Derby 2020 graduate and now Newman basketball player, Sydney Nilles said, “I think they pour their hearts into it, after our season last year, it really brought to their eye that we don’t want to do that again. So I’m praying for them, I’m praying for every high school team. And if they do get to play, I mean cherish it because that’s all you get.”

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