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Time to prep: one big question

With so many unknowns still swirling around what high school sports will look like during the 2020-21 school year,

The News-Gazette sports staff will attempt to provide a few answers. Have a question? Let sports editor Matt Daniels

or preps coordinator Colin Likas know by emailing sports@news-gazette.com, and they’ll track down an answer.

Today’s topic: What will area schools do about letting fans attend sporting events this upcoming school year?

Much like anything these days, large crowds are discouraged amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s guidelines released Wednesday about sports in the state, indoor and outdoor events can have up to 20 percent capacity at a particular venue, with 6 feet of social distance maintained and face coverings for everyone in attendance.

Rantoul athletic director Travis Flesner said he has already had this conversation with the school’s administration before the IHSA announced its plans on Wednesday to have condensed sports seasons this school year.

“With all of the guidelines and restrictions that the Department of Health has put in, I suggested we don’t have fans, even if they allow us to have fans,” Flesner said. “You’re going to have them go through such a rigorous process of having them take their temperature, asking if they have any symptoms, making sure they’re staying 6 feet apart and making sure they’re wearing masks. That would be an absolute nightmare. It would be like trying to catch mosquitoes with a gate.”

Flesner said monitoring that situation would be easier for a basketball game than a football game. Especially since Rantoul’s Bill Walsh Field sits directly off Route 136.

“With basketball, you will probably hire different people at doors to make sure people wouldn’t sneak in,” Flesner said. “If they did get in somehow, we’d have to get them out. Football is different because it’s such a big area. Someone could be standing across Route 136 at our football field, and how you police that, I’m not real sure.”

Livestreaming events will likely become common throughout the area.

“We do have cameras set up in our main gym and our football field,” Flesner said, “so people can still view them through the NFHS Network, which is nice to have as an option.”

MATT DANIELS