Coaches and administrators met Wednesday to discuss protocols and procedures for the upcoming Pitt 8 Conference Tournament.
The annual tournament is set to be held Jan. 18-23, with this year’s contest to be hosted completely by member schools Kiowa and Pittsburg after conference officials agreed to several procedures during Wednesday's meeting. But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, new health and safety measures were put into place for this year’s tournament.
Pitt 8 Conference commissioner and Pittsburg superintendent Chad Graham said it was important for conference members to come together to find a way to safely have the tournament and keep people healthy.
“This is so different here,” Graham said. “This is all about the kids. This is for them.”
In order to limit the number of fans, each player will be assessed four passes to give out to family members. These tickets will be color-coded to represent each school, and those passes will only allow entry when that school is playing — for both girls and boys teams.
Girls and boys teams will play on alternating nights leading up to championship Saturday, with Pitt 8 girls teams playing on Monday and Thursday, and Pitt 8 boys teams to compete Tuesday and Friday. On championship day, games will be divided among the two host sites of Kiowa and Pittsburg.
Masks and temperature checks will be required for entry, and cost of admission will be $5 for adults, and $3 for students. Pitt 8 Passes will not be accepted without a color-coded pass, but OSSAA passes will be accepted. Some seating may be marked off as to help distance fans from the competing teams’ benches.
At the conclusion of each game, fans will be ushered out of the gyms to allow officials to sanitize the building. Once that is done, fans for the next game will be allowed inside. Teams participating in the next game may go in and begin warmups while the sanitation is taking place.
“Once their game’s over, they have to leave,” Graham said. “We’re going to have to escort people out. It’s going to be full (otherwise).”
These measures will take place at both sites, and Kiowa athletic director Keith Quaid said it’s important for them to be followed.
Although the schools would like to see fans come out like they do in usual years, they’re instilling these measures in order to allow these student-athletes the chance to compete, and for their families to get to enjoy the moment for their children.
“I think it’s more important for our parents to come watch their kids,” Quaid said of the limits. “So we can have the tournament without fans, or they can abide by the rules.”
All member representatives agreed that the tournament was for the benefit of the student-athletes, and want to make sure they can hold the tournament as safely as possible.
Graham also mentioned that, with the playoffs following shortly after the tournament, these measures can help to ensure a team is not effected as it begins its postseason journey.
“This is so just different here,” Graham said. “I don’t want us to have the conference tournament and it effect (the playoffs) in any way.”
Official brackets had not yet been set due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic at the time of publication of this story.
If a team has a COVID situation and has to drop out before the tournament starts, the Pitt 8 will reseed the teams. But the deadline for this possibility is Saturday at noon. If after that time a team has to pull themselves out of the tournament, the remaining teams will have to push forward without reseeding.
Contact Derek Hatridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.