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Suffolk allowing spectators for fall high school sports

Westhampton Beach fans cheer on their team during

Westhampton Beach fans cheer on their team during a football game on Oct.18, 2019, at Westhampton Beach. Credit: George A. Faella

Section XI is putting fans in the stands.

The governing body for all Suffolk County public school athletics announced Tuesday that it will allow two spectators per participant for the fall sports season beginning March 8.

However, the rule is different for outdoor and indoor sports.

The decision allows two spectators per athlete for home and away teams at all outdoor contests for football, soccer, cross country, field hockey and tennis.

It allows two spectators per athlete for only the home teams at all indoor contests for volleyball, badminton and swimming.

"We feel this is a prudent measure after conferring with the safety committee and our athletic council," said Tom Combs, the executive director for Section XI. "We all agreed it’s safe to have two spectators per participant at our sites. Folks can go and enjoy a game."

However, there is a caveat to the section’s decision. Combs went on to say that each district still has the capacity to deny spectators.

"It will be up to the discretion of the individual school districts whether or not they will have any spectators," he said. "They are permitted to have fans but that’s up to them."

The first fall contests are scheduled for boys and girls volleyball and boys and girls soccer on March 8.

Combs also said he is concerned with the number of volleyball officials that have opted out. He said there are currently 49 officials that have declined to work this season.

"We are in a dire situation with our volleyball officials and I understand why they won’t work," he said. "But that doesn’t solve our problem. The scheduling will be a difficult challenge and we may have one official at many contests."

He said every other fall sport is in good shape as far as the total number of available officials.

"I’m worried about volleyball," he said.

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