It’s not often that high school football fans are paying close attention to a lawsuit between two government entities. But it’s 2020 so it seems par for the course.
This week the Blue Springs School District sued Jackson County over its crowd restrictions at outdoor events more specifically football. That limit is no more than 100 fans can attend games as part of an outdoor gathering. Standard social distancing and mask requirements apply.
The first week of the season Blue Springs High School hosted Liberty and 400 total tickets were given out for home and visiting fans. The County gave the district a notice of non-compliance. The two sides met, discussed and could not come to an agreement of a change in the restrictions. Blue Springs filed a lawsuit Thursday and asked a judge to issue a temporary injunction as the case was moving through the court system.
In the time between when that suit was filed and when the judge declined to issue that injunction a few things happened. Most notably almost 17,000 fans attended the Chiefs game Thursday night. That number is about 25 percent of capacity. At the same time in downtown Kansas City’s Kansas City Live section of the Power and Light district hundreds of fans gathered to cheer on the Chiefs and enjoy the evening.
That’s just a little bit of background. We will get back to that.
So the judge did not issue the injunction and Blue Springs was forced to turn away ticketed fans at games at both high schools Friday night. Not an ideal situation to say the least but the weather might have helped in that cause. Blue Springs lawsuit does move forward but no future trial date has been set.
So there you have it. Keep those crowds to 100 people at an outdoor gathering/game or the county says it will pull a districts health permit for concession stands and force all attendees and players to quarantine for 14 days.
Ok, that sounds great but Blue Springs didn’t open their concession stands so that mutes that part. Next is the quarantine. Good luck on that too.
How about a few more facts. If the football game was played in the gym at either school the attendance would be limited to 50 percent of capacity with social distancing. Let that number sink in. A standard high school gym seats about 1,500 with some holding more and a few smaller schools holding less. So play the game inside and you can easily have more than the 400 Blue Springs had outside in a football stadium that can easily hold 4,000-5,000 people.
Are you starting to see some issues here? Ok let’s get back to the Chiefs and Power and Light. The answer to that question is those are governed by the Kansas City Health Department and were given the go ahead from the Mayor and the head of that department. Different rules, different jurisdictions separated by invisible lines on a map that’s normal but a global pandemic isn’t normal.
If you see the inconsistencies you’re not alone. In fact a local television station interviewed the Kansas City Health Department Director of Health Dr. Rex Archer and asked him why the Chiefs get 17.000 and high schools in Jackson County only get 100. To be fair he pointed out that this is a Jackson County limit but that he did support it. He would go on to say that it was “different” for high schools and that schools “Didn’t have the manpower and planning the Chiefs do.”
The Chiefs have manpower and planning. From what I could see and was told by those in attendance the Chiefs did their due diligence in creating a safe environment given the rules they were operating under. This is not about the Chiefs.
To say that schools don’t have “manpower” and “planning” is either uniformed or plain stupid. My wife is a teacher and the No. 1 job they have right now is planning and organizing to keep kids safe. She must log into any room she or her students enter. That’s on top of temperature scanners when children enter the building, masks and distancing the list goes on and on.
At the same time school coaches and administrators have spent the last three months becoming health protocol experts along with sanitation experts.
I think that answers the planning statement so let’s talk about manpower. After talking with a few school administrators I know and trust the estimate of supervision to fan in attendance for an event like the one at Blue Springs High School would be around 40. That makes the ratio of fan to supervision 10:1. If you use those numbers there would have been 1,700 security and stadium workers at Thursday’s Chiefs game. That number seems high to me and oh by the way the people supervising at a high school game aren’t supervising people who are actively drinking alcohol.
Ok, I’ve dumped a lot of information on you and you can make your own decision. Personally if the city and surrounding counties came back and said no fans, I would not have an issue with this. If that is what they think is best and good results are being seen, then go for it. I want all of us to get through this that is goal No. 1.
I just have a hard time with telling one event you are limited while others are not. That’s when it seems like an arbitrary attempt to appear to be doing something in one space while not doing something in another.
Today I drove by the Cable Dahmer Arena in Independence and the parking lot of the venue (which holds around 5,000 people) was more than half full with a gun show being held inside the arena. I guess we could have played a football game there but not in the parking lot. But I digress.
The bottom line is be fair and consistent. Set expectations and hold citizens to them. Sounds like something a coaches and teachers do daily. If only they had the planning and manpower to pull off an outdoor football game.