Fans won’t be allowed as high school sports return this week and next week in the Kent School District and North Puget Sound League (NPSL), but games will be livestreamed.
Staff from Kent, Auburn and Federal Way schools as well as Tahoma, Kennedy Catholic and Mount Rainier, all NPSL members, decided to ban fans from the games due to COVID-19.
“We plan to begin with no spectators to help acclimate our schools to the new required protocols for teams, cheerleaders, officials, medical personnel and event staff,” according to a Kent School District statement. “This will also help reduce the chances of impacting our schedules by inadvertent exposure to the COVID virus.
“We know how enthusiastic our fans are and understand that our decision will be disappointing to many. This decision will provide time to evaluate the effectiveness of physical distancing and safety protocols that have been developed to allow the return of education-based athletics.”
The NPSL opens play with seven football games on Friday, March 12 and Saturday, March 13. Kentlake plays Kentwood in a 7 p.m. Friday showdown at French Field. Kentridge plays Decatur at noon Saturday and Kent-Meridian plays Thomas Jefferson at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Livestreaming will be offered for fans to watch games online on school websites. All NPSL schools will attempt to cover as many events as possible.
Each school is paying $2,000 for the livestreaming so fans can watch the games for free, said Kent School District athletic director Brian Smith in an email. The games will be offered through Wisconsin-based justagamelive.com.
“This service was chosen by the school athletic directors of the NPSL as the best option to allow families and fans to view league competitions since spectators will not be allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Smith said.
Justagamelive.com is a partner of Michigan-based VNN which provides all NPSL websites for the high schools, Smith said. This service can also be used for other activities such as drama or music productions. VNN partners with more than 2,000 schools across the nation.
The other fall sports, playing in what’s known under Washington Interscholastic Activities Association guidelines as Season 1, include volleyball, golf, girls swim, cross county and girls soccer. Season 1 goes through April 17.
Season 2, scheduled to run April 12 through May 22, includes baseball, fastpitch softball, boys soccer, girls tennis, track and field and boys swimming. Season 3, to run May 17 through June 26, includes boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, gymnastics (May 10 start), dance, cheerleading, bowling, boys tennis and boys and girls water polo.
Kent high school sports websites
(for watching livestreams)