Playoffs amidst a pandemic

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — With a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, much thought has gone into how to keep players, coaches, and fans safe this playoff season.

Playoff season has always been an exciting time in the Panhandle. However, this year, things will be a little different.

Brad Thiessen, AISD Athletic Director, stated “We’ve never been through this, so it’s going to be a feel your way through it as we go.”

AISD’s football playoff season is still awhile away, however, the district’s volleyball season kicks off next week.

Thiessen said playoff games will have limited seating capacity this year, especially for volleyball.

“It’ll probably pretty much be just parents and family members only. What we’re anticipating is that we’re going to hand those tickets out to the players, let them hand them out to the people that they want at the game, and then that will be the extent of the fans at the volleyball playoffs,” explained Thiessen.

For football, the seating capacity will sometimes be based on the size of the stadium.

According to Thiessen, for football playoffs, AISD is anticipating limiting the tickets to just the tickets sold here in town and not at the gate.

As for both sports, fans will be required to keep their masks on for the duration of the games.

Thiessen commented, “At this point, we’re enforcing the mask rule. If you refuse to wear a mask, then we’re going to ask you to leave.”

As always, who advances in playoffs is always up for grab. However, due to the pandemic, this year who moves forward is even more unpredictable.

“There are games being cancelled from COVID issues within certain teams, so when those games are cancelled then the other team just advances. So we don’t ever know. We’re playing football today and hopefully tomorrow, and Monday is not guaranteed,” said Thiessen.

For now, the school district is doing their best to give their students a chance to play.

“We’re doing the very best we can to make sure… especially, I mean look at our seniors. It’s important for them to have a senior year, where they have the sports and where they have the competition. It’s just a really tough year, but we’re doing everything we can do to make sure they have that same experience that every senior should have deserve, as well as the other kids.”

Also responding to the uptick in cases, Amarillo City Council.

City Communications Manager, David Henry, stated “The City of Amarillo has already contacted all related sports associations. Youth and adult athletic events at city facilities and sanctioned by the city are suspended  until further notice.”

Additionally Henry said, “Several adjustments to service include 1) Parks open to the public, but discontinue reservations and rental of park amenities; 2) discontinue use of City facilities for athletics; 3) green fee play only at golf courses, no tournaments; 4) discontinue all recreation activities, 5) discontinue classes, instruction and facilities rentals at Warford Activity Center – will stay open for general usage with no more than 10 allowed in gym or pool at one time; and 6) Amarillo Zoo will be open for general usage with indoor facilities closed and no groups over 10 persons allowed.”

As for younger divisions of sports, Kids Inc. announced on Monday that due to the increase in COVID-related cases, Amarillo ISD officials will no longer be allowing outside groups to utilize their gyms. The statement said this decision is effective immediately.

Kids Inc. reporting that the district’s decision will remain in place at least until the end of the year. This meaning that all of the organization’s volleyball leagues have been cancelled at this time, along with Boys Basketball: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th/8th Grade Leagues.

With this, Kids Inc. stated, “Since these leagues are scheduled in Amarillo ISD gyms, we are forced to cancel these leagues at this time. Please give us a couple of days to get our refund process in place and we will notify everyone in the volleyball leagues as to how to request your refund. Thanks so much for your patience.”

To see Kids Inc.’s plan moving forward, you can check their website here.

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