Released: Updated attendance policies for spring sports

Photo by Laura Veldhof

Photo by Laura Veldhof

Instead of having to call your grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, and cousins and siblings about how your games went, they can come see for themselves. Spring sports are back and so is the chance to watch the West Ottawa games and matches.

   While only three months into the new year, 2021 holds a great deal of hope for returning to normalcy, especially for high school athletics. 

   Track and field, lacrosse, baseball, softball, girls tennis, girls soccer, boys golf, rugby, water polo, and boys volleyball are back.

   As West Ottawa High School athletes transition into the spring season, rules regarding athletic spectators are evolving. 

   West Ottawa’s Athletic Director Bill Kennedy recently learned this year’s rules and regulations regarding athletic spectators for spring sports.


Sporting events that will take place indoors have spectator regulations similar to those followed in the fall and winter seasons. 

   Boys and girls water polo and boys volleyball are this spring’s indoor athletic events. 

   “Because it’s an indoor sport, we’re still limited by how many we can fit. For all water polo matches (and boys volleyball games), it’s going to be two tickets per athlete,” Kennedy said. 

   If a spectator is unable to attend water polo matches, streaming may still be an option. “I would imagine we’ll probably stream water polo because that’s a really easy one and we’ve streamed all of our swim meets, so we’ve got the equipment over there,” Kennedy said.


Spectator regulations have however been altered for sporting events that take place outdoors. These events include track and field, lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis, soccer, golf, and rugby.

   Current guidelines allow for 1,000 spectators at outdoor events. 

   Security personnel will be at sporting events to count the number and ensure that this 1,000 spectators limit is followed, although Kennedy does not foresee this as a potential issue. “We’re basically going to open the gates, let people come, and enjoy the games,” he said.

   Unfortunately, online streaming is not plausible for outdoor athletics. “Our wifi capabilities in some of our facilities are not up to snuff to be able to stream. Especially with us not really having restrictions on people coming, so grandma and grandpa can come to the games now, they won’t have to rely on those streams as much,” Kennedy said.

   Social distancing and mask wearing will continue to be mandatory at both indoor and outdoor sporting events. 

   “Bring a bag chair,” Kennedy said. Regardless of the available seating provided at facilities, bringing personal chairs will give spectators the chance to move around, spread out, and remain COVID safe, all while enjoying spring sports.

   Many parents of spring sport athletes are thrilled to have the opportunity to support their children in a more “normal” setting.

   “I think it’s great that more spectators will be allowed at high school outdoor sporting events. It’s important for the student-athletes to have family and friends there cheering them on and showing their support,” Jennifer Pratt, mother of a West Ottawa tennis player said.

   “Finally, friends and family can go out and support the student-athletes, especially the seniors who are wrapping up with high school athletics. Being able to be there for our kids is a big deal,” Terra Bentley, mother of two West Ottawa spring sport athletes, said.

   “The really big pieces are: encourage social distancing, and mask wearing for everyone in attendance,” Kennedy said.

   Bats are swinging and Panthers are scoring this spring, and spectators finally have the chance to watch the action firsthand.

   As the weather gets warmer and West Ottawa’s spring sports begin, be sure to continue cheering on the Panthers in all of their athletic endeavors.