Thousands sign NC petition requesting more fans in stands at outdoor high school games

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WEDDINGTON, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)– A Weddington High School parent created a petition on Change.org, asking North Carolina state leaders to allow more fans in the stands at outdoor high school games.

“We’re all super hyped up to play,” said Weddington junior, Camp O’Connell, “so regardless we’re going to be a lot of fun to watch, still.”

Monday was the first day of football practice for Weddington High School. With the team’s first game on Feb. 26, players are wondering what it’ll be like with fewer fans.

“The main thing is with my parents,” said senior Evan Schwartz. “Like, I want them to be there to see this.”

For that reason, O’Connell’s mom, Meagen, started the petition, and it’s taken off.

“One signature has turned into 16,000 signatures,” she told FOX 46.

O’Connell is requesting the state change the regulations. Currently, only 100 fans are allowed to attend outdoor high school sporting events.

“The end goal is just to have both parents and grandparents be able to watch their kids play,” she said. “That’s it! That’s all we’re asking for. We’re not asking for a full stadium.”

Weddington High School can hold roughly 5,000 fans. Under the current restrictions, that puts their allotted occupancy at just two percent.

“You wait for this time in life as a parent to watch your kids play at the high school level,” O’Connell said, “and, really, my heart breaks for the seniors.”

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is aware of the petition. Commissioner Que Tucker stated, “We are aware of the online petition regarding spectator limits for outdoor high school athletic events. While the NCHSAA would love the opportunity to allow more spectators at its outdoor sporting events, the current Executive Order by Governor Cooper, with input from DHHS, stipulates a 100-spectator maximum for events held in stadiums with a capacity less than 10,000. Until COVID-19 conditions across the state improve and the current guidance from the Governor and DHHS is relaxed, the NCHSAA cannot entertain changing these maximums. 

The health and safety of our student-athletes and school communities remains of paramount concern. We must follow the Governor’s Executive Orders so that we can continue to offer athletic opportunities to students across the state.”

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