There will be no spectators this fall at Southwestern Maine Activities Association contests.

Citing state COVID-19 regulations that limit outdoor gatherings to 100 people, the SMAA’s athletic directors made the decision late last week that it would be best to not allow any fans to attend its boys’ and girls’ soccer and field hockey games, along with cross country and golf events. Those are the four interscholastic sports allowed in Maine this fall, per guidelines agreed and approved by the state and the Maine Principals’ Association on Sept. 10.

Because the people directly involved in the game count toward the 100-person limit, having spectators was nearly impossible for the Class A SMAA schools, said South Portland Athletic Director Todd Livingston.

“During a varsity-(junior varsity) doubleheader, the JVs will be playing and the varsity will show up, so at some point all four teams are on site,” Livingston said. “Hypothetically, say each team has 20 players, that’s 80 people right there. Coaches get you to 86, 87, then you have your athletic director, athletic trainer, scoreboard operator. That kind of removes any fans.”

Spectators would also necessitate extra precautions, including separate entrances, personnel to monitor social distancing, sanitizing between games, and acquiring spectator phone or email information in the event virus contact tracing is required.

“Even though it’s a fact that it would take an incredible amount of energy, that was never really a point of discussion,” said Gary Stevens, the athletic director at Thornton Academy. “It was really more numbers that dictated the issue, as opposed to logistics. If (the gathering limit) had been 150, I’m sure we would have found a way to manage those slots.”

The same will hold for 7-on-7 flag football. Schedules for flag football are still being worked out, Livingston said.

The Mountain Valley Conference also has decided to not allow spectators this season.

The Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and the Western Maine Conference both decided schools can allow limited home-team spectators.

“We talked about it for quite some time but what we decided was no visiting team spectators and leave the home spectators up to local control,” said KJ Anastasio, Lincoln Academy’s athletic director and the president of the KVAC.

Similarly, the WMC athletic directors voted unanimously to prohibit spectators from visiting teams and allow home team administrators to make a decision on allowing fans, “as long as they meet the Governor’s executive order of no more than 100 total people,” said Freeport AD Craig Sickels.

Many schools are working out the details to offer live-streaming of games. One option is to accept The National Federation of State High School Associations offer of free motion-activated cameras. Schools pay the installation costs, NFHS has the streaming rights, and subscriptions are needed to view the games.

Anastasio said one reason the KVAC’s plan allows for teams to have a traditional Senior Night.

Livingston said senior nights did come up in the SMAA discussion. It was determined they could not be held before a game. South Portland is considering holding senior nights as separate events, probably combining two or three teams at a time. “At least that way the kids will have an audience of other families,” he said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.