BARNEGAT, NJ – Barnegat High School indoor sports teams might feel some regrets that their fans aren’t cheering them on in person. However, most know that’s there is no stopping dedicated spectators from catching their home games play by play.
Governor Phil Murphy lifted a prohibition on indoor practices and competitions for organized sports at the beginning of the year. The decision came with a few caveats, including what even the NJSIAA referred to as a spectator ban.
The rules come as part of restrictions related to COVID-19 indoor gatherings. Indoor practices and competitions are confined to 10 people. The state set aside the limitation on numbers based on what it considers necessary to the participation.
No doubt that players, coaches, and referees take on integral roles in sporting competitions. Their presence acts as an exception to the 10-person limitation, with other restrictions.
In-person spectators are not viewed as necessary by state guidelines. Fans can’t show up at games beyond the 10-person limitation. Barnegat Schools figured out a work-around for parents and other avid supporters.
“A livestream camera has been set up in the main gym,” shared Barnegat Board of Education member Robert Sawicki. “The camera televises freshmen, JV, varsity and any other home games played in the gym.”
Athletic Director John Germano explained the innovative idea that required the district to purchase a camera and update its Hudl account. The Hudl software allows video access to full games and totes itself as a hub for athletes, coaches, and fans.
“We will be able to livestream home volleyball, basketball, and wrestling games,” Germano said. “We can also livestream graduation ceremonies or any other type of event held in Gym I.”
Barnegat Township School District’s Athletic Department hosts its own YouTube channel, where livestream sports events are broadcast.
The concept of televising local indoor sports originated as a result of the spectator ban. During the summer months, the district suspected the government would take precautions calling for the exclusion of fans. Authorities did not want to see either parents or students deprived from the joy of participation.
It turns out the stroke of creativity resulted in expanding spectator involvement beyond the usual.
“What I love about the cameras is what it does for grandparents who live in a different town who can’t make it to a normal game,” shared Germano. “They’ll now be able to see their family member play ball.”
According to Sawicki, the district also plans to arrange for livestreaming of swimming and bowling. Logistics need to be worked out as far as the facilities where the events are held.
Breakers Kitchen & Tap in Waretown has already hopped on board for the televised events. They set up space for Barnegat High School parents to watch a livestream of a basketball last week.
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