Fans adjust to new normal for high school football

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ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL)- The stadium at Citizens Bank Field was only a third of the way filled for Elizabethton High School’s big season opener against Science Hill High School. This season was one that parents, fans and athletes weren’t sure would be possible.

“It’s a little different when the stadium’s not packed, most of these games, anytime we play Science Hill it’s a packed house,” said Elizabthton’s Director of Schools, Richard Van Huss. “So, that’s been a little bit different. But, we’re just excited to give the kids a chance to play.”

Tickets were sold mostly as season passes and were limited to families of participating athletes, band, and choir members. Groups of tickets were sold in bundles of six or fewer people and seats were assigned or marked off to allow for social distancing.

“A lot of people wanted my extra ticket,” said Science Hill football parent, Danielle Hamby. “As senior and junior parents, we each got two tickets a piece, So people that are used to going and people that are used to being here just didn’t know what to do.”

Those who were able to get tickets had to have their temperature checked before walking in and were required to wear a mask the entire time.

“It’s something that we’re already used to and our parents were willing to put masks on, our parents were willing to put masks on and come out here and social distance to just enjoy themselves and enjoy these boys,” Hamby said.

The home team was the only one with a band and cheerleaders, there were limited concessions and sanitizing stations throughout the stadium.

“We have sections of seats laid out to make sure we can ensure social distancing so that’s a big protocol,” Van Huss said. “We’ve checked temperatures for everyone that’s entered, ask everyone to wear a mask. From what I can tell, compliance has been strong.”

Despite the protocols, parents were just happy their kids were able to take the field.

“It doesn’t make any difference,” said Elizabethton Football parent, Eva Christian. “We want to be here to support him and the school, the Cyclones teams and we’re just glad to be here…glad football season is going on.”

There were announcements throughout the game in addition to signs up reminding people to wear their masks and social distance.

“We would go back and try to contact trace as best that we can [if cases come up,] said Van Huss. “We would use any means that we have, cameras, and things like that to try to isolate individuals and we know who we sold season tickets to in sections so that would be a way that we could track.”

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