By Marty Gordon
There won’t be a roar of the crowd at the upcoming football games because of the restrictions on student-athletes, coaches, parents, and fans forced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Montgomery County School Board. According to the school board, those restrictions mean no members of the public will be allowed to attend the games, and only two people per participant will be allowed through the gates.
In addition, the board is requiring that masks be worn by all the players when they are not on the field. If they have a face shield, they can just keep their helmets. Event staff and coaches will be required to wear masks at all times.
The Virginia High School League recommends fans consider watching sports at home rather than attending in-person sporting events.
For those unable to attend this spring’s games in person, Radford, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Giles, Narrows, and Pulaski all will have local radio broadcasts of their games. Eastern Montgomery and Auburn will not.
In addition, all of the Montgomery County schools have installed the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHSS) cameras that will show video from each game. The Pixellot cameras will be located on each school’s press box near the 50-yard line and will move with the action on the field.
The Pixellot camera-system is a global leader in automated sports production, and its technology uses a multi-camera array to cover the whole field of play, capturing all the action and streaming it straight into sports venues and homes. Pixellot does not require a camera operator, and an auto-tracking feature allows the cameras to follow the action, panning and zooming. Score graphics are synced with the venue’s scoreboard.
The NFHS charges a subscription fee, which typically is $10.99 monthly or $69.99 for the year. Each school will receive 10 percent of that revenue.
Danny Knott, the director of Human Resources for the Montgomery County school system, said the school system has installed the NFHS Network’s Pixellot cameras at all of its stadiums.
“We hope that by the time we are able to play, the cameras will installed in all four high
Schools,” Knott said. “This will allow anyone in the country to watch any of our schools play.”
The Pixellot system is nothing new as many schools have been using a similar unit as part of its Huddle football broadcasts to highlight games and individual players.
In addition to the remote benefit and revenue sharing, each school can make money off sponsorships and advertising. Audio play-by-play can be added to each broadcast.
For more information on the remote broadcasts, contact the local schools or go to the National
Federation of High School sports broadcast site for schedules.
The Virginia High School League (VHSL) has made several changes for this football season. The team boxes will be extended on both sides of the field to the 20-yard lines to allow for more social distancing space for the teams.
Uniforms, towels and/or equipment cannot be shared.
The ball should be cleaned and sanitized throughout the contest, and ball holders must maintain six-feet of social distancing at all times.
Plastic shields covering the entire face shall not be allowed this season.
Gloves are permissible.
In addition, the VHSL is telling schools to extend timeouts between quarters to allow for the sanitizing of balls.
The coin toss can include only one coach from each team and an official.