GULF COAST, Miss. (WLOX) - Leaders in K-12 athletics said they are quickly adjusting to the good news from Gov. Tate Reeves. Schools can now fill sporting events to 25% capacity, which will bring in more people than the previous “two fans per player” mandate.
“It’s going to be a big deal. We started ticket sales today with each kid limited to two. So now they want to get three or four. So obviously it’s going to help out a whole lot,” said Eddie Whitehead, St. Martin High School head football coach.
The new mandate still calls for safety measures to be enforced, like social distancing and face coverings.
“We want to get the fans in there and they want to be here as well,” said Assistant St. Martin Superintendent David Baggett.
The boost in attendance will also bring in more money at the door, which was a concern for schools heading into the fall season.
“We sold 400 tickets for the jamboree the other night when we had the two-per-participant rule. Now we can sell about 1,800 tickets and change at Milner Stadium,” said Gulfport High School Athletic Director Bryan Caldwell.
While there will still be vacant seats at sporting contests across the state, both schools and teams said that the new mandate is a step toward a more normal fall season.
“The closer we can get back to normal, the better off we’re going to be,” Whitehead said.
Programs know how important athletics are to communities across South Mississippi and are glad more people can be welcomed in.
“We like to give the city of Gulfport something to do. A lot of people rely on Friday night football. It’s a tradition for a lot of towns,” said Gulfport High School head football coach John Archie.
While spectators will enjoy loosened restrictions, teams are not letting up on following their own guidelines.
“We’re going to keep following protocol, and as long as we keep on doing that I think we will be fine,” Archie said.
High school athletics leaders also ask Mississippians to continue to follow the COVID-19 safety mandates so that more restrictions could possibly be loosened later on in the fall.