Director of Schools Dr. John Combs stood behind the north end zone during Friday night’s Covington-Munford football game in Covington, and he did not like what he saw.
Because of that, when Covington plays its next home game Sept. 4 against Bolivar, about half as many fans will be allowed in the stadium as there were last Friday.
Combs said about 1,000 tickets were sold for last Friday’s game and pointed out that was more than many schools in the Memphis-area allowed. Collierville, with a capacity of 5,000, reportedly sold just 500 tickets. Covington’s stadium can hold about 3,000.
“We were definitely being nice allowing that many to come in,” Combs said. “The expectation was that everybody was going to do what they were supposed to do and socially distance so we could keep doing that, but that just didn’t happen.”
Approximately 570 tickets will be available for the Sept. 4 game, 100 of which will be given to Bolivar.
“If that doesn’t work we’ll keep hacking it down,” Combs said. “Folks are just going to have to spread out … I took a lot of darts having football in the first place so we’re going to abide by those guidelines.”
The TSSAA issued COVID-19 guidelines earlier this month for schools hosting sporting events. Fans are required to wear masks at all times, socially distance and have their temperature checked before entering the facility. It’s recommended that stadiums and gyms are filled to no more than one-third capacity.
There were many fans of both teams not wearing masks at the Covington-Munford game and social distancing was an issue. A group of Covington students was ejected from the stadium at halftime for refusing to socially distance.
“It got a little better after halftime,” Combs said. “(CHS principal) Mark (McClain) had to remove the student section. He was working hard. CHS was working hard. They made announcements multiple times for people to practice those guidelines and please social distance. I was there, I saw the whole thing. A ton of people didn’t have masks on, but even more so than that, the bleachers were taped off and they ignored the tape and just sat where they wanted to.”
Covington will be on the road this Friday, but Munford and Brighton will each hold their home openers. Brighton hosts Dyersburg Friday and Munford hosts Millington on Thursday in the M and M Bowl, a game that always draws huge crowds.
Combs said how Brighton and Munford handle their home openers will be monitored closely.
“They both have the opportunity to see if they can socially distance or not,” Combs said. “The same rule will apply to them if they can’t.”
Combs sent an email to Covington High School this morning to inform them of the changes. It said if issues continue, capacity will continue to be reduced and it could get to the point where no fans are allowed.
“You know me, I love football,” Combs said. “It’s my favorite sport to watch, but we’ve got to abide by those rules the TSSAA sent and we’re going to do it.”