The COVID-19 pandemic has forced countless changes to the norm throughout 2020, but one local athletic conference has come up with a way for family members, friends and other fans to watch many of its varsity sporting events live during the 2020-21 school year.
Following a recent directive from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) that will limit in-person attendance to 25 spectators for indoor events and 100 for outdoor competitions, the South Fork 2A Conference has developed a livestreaming network that will feature varsity volleyball, basketball, football, softball and baseball contests in the impending months. The website — www.sfcnetwork.tv — launched on Friday and tickets to watch upcoming volleyball, basketball and football contests are already available.
Tickets are $10 per event per device (including computers, phones, tablets and other devices with a browser, as well as Roku streaming players), and all money from the pay-per-view events goes to the host school’s athletic department. Livestreaming is available for all eight teams in the South Fork 2A Conference, which consists of Bandys, Maiden, Newton-Conover, East Lincoln, Lincolnton, North Lincoln, West Lincoln and Lake Norman Charter.
Chris Ritchie of Lincolnton is coordinating the livestreaming network. President of the Video Stream Team, he has extensive experience in TV and radio broadcasting.
Varsity volleyball will be the first sport streamed on the network when teams begin play on Nov. 17. South Fork 2A Conference squads will play each team in the league in both a home match and an away match, for a total of 14 regular-season contests.
Other news and notes shared by South Fork 2A Conference Administrator Butch Parker during Friday morning’s remote press conference:
VOLLEYBALL ATTENDANCE GUIDELINES
- Only home fans will be admitted to South Fork 2A Conference matches, and no passes of any kind will be accepted. All tickets must be purchased in team seasonal packets of $49 each in advance from the home school and will be limited to two family members each of all “rostered athletes” and a total of 25 spectators total per event.
- Fans may sit in family pods of two that will be marked off and must practice social distancing, receive a temperature check, fill out a COVID-19 checklist and wear a mask at all times while at the facility.
- At the completion of JV contests, the gym will be cleared for sanitization before being reopened prior to the start of varsity competition.
CROSS COUNTRY ATTENDANCE GUIDELINES
- All meets will be run at North Lincoln High School, and a total admission of 100 will be allowed for $5 per car. Tickets will be available on meet days at the guard shack located at the entrance to the high school.
- Social distancing and COVID-19 protocols will be in place, and there will be no livestreaming of competitions.
CONCESSIONS AND TICKETING
- It is up to the host school to decide whether it wishes to offer concessions, and no gatherings in the gyms or lobbies will be allowed before or after athletic contests. Concessions must be prepackaged and not prepared on site.
- Admissions will be open 30 minutes prior to the first serve of JV volleyball matches and once sanitizing is completed prior to the first serve of the varsity contest. No tickets will be sold at matches, and are required to be purchased in advance.
- Visiting teams will be temperature checked on the bus by their own coaching staff prior to entering the gym. Locker rooms will be available upon request.
- A maximum of four support people per team will be allowed in the gym, and the athletic director of the visiting school is required to send a list of those names to the administration of the host school each Monday and Wednesday. Those individuals must follow social distancing and COVID-19 protocols.
- Credentialed media may enter the gym, with a limit of one reporter and one photographer per print outlet. Each outlet must send the names of the attendee(s) to the athletic director of the host school before noon on game days to be placed on the media list for that particular event.
- Reporters will not be permitted to sit at press tables, and will instead be directed to assigned seats where they must remain for the duration of the event (unless visiting the restroom or concession stand). Photographers are not allowed to move out of their designated areas.
- Access to the coaches will be made available within 15 minutes of the conclusion of the match. As of right now, only the home coach will be accessible, but conference athletic directors are set to discuss making both coaches as well as one player from the winning team available as well.
Notes: All of the information shared during Friday morning’s remote press conference is subject to change, and the South Fork 2A Conference reserves the right to amend rules and practices from one sport to the next. Anyone not complying with conference protocols — which have been adopted in accordance with guidelines set by the NCHSAA, the NCDHHS and Local Education Agencies — will be removed from the facility and not allowed to return.... Several schedules for the 2020-21 school year have been released by the South Fork 2A Conference and other local conferences including the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference and the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, and those will be printed (or reprinted in some cases) in an upcoming edition of the Hickory Daily Record.
Josh McKinney is the sports editor for the Hickory Daily Record.
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