Red Mountain football, like some others, was able to return this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. But as has been the case virtually everywhere, the stands look a lot different.
Each player, band member and cheerleader are limited to four tickets for every home game, according to Red Mountain Athletic Director Jason Grantham.
The number of fans in attendance is subject to change throughout the year, but for now, Mesa Public Schools set it at less than 25 percent due to COVID-19.
“It’s pretty consistent throughout the district,” said Grantham. “We ask that people in the stands are spacing out, social distancing and wearing masks.”
The bleachers have tape throughout them to ensure social distancing to the fullest.
Grantham said indoor crowds are “fantastic,” referring to Red Mountain’s volleyball and badminton teams.
The indoor sporting events are easier to manage social distancing because the bleachers are easily sectioned off with tape.
Grantham said for the most part it is good outside at the football games, but there are times where people “don’t believe in it”, referring to wearing masks and distancing, but “are respectful about it.”
“Spectators should be sitting every other row,” said Grantham.
Head football coach Mike Peterson stated it can get “too political” at times when trying to enforce guidelines at the games.
Peterson also said that it is a hot topic that people don’t like to talk about.
“We want two things from athletics this year,” said Grantham. “Athletes to be able to play and parents to be able to watch.”
While most parents are given the opportunity to attend games, there is still a large chunk of the crowd missing.
“The only difference I see is that the student sections aren’t there anymore,” said safety Georgie Ramirez. “For what we are allowed to have, it is still loud and feels like Friday nights.”
Grantham mentioned Red Mountain is trying to work its way up to the 25 percent capacity level, which would allow for the student body to attend games.
Typically, the sidelines are filled with players, coaches, athletic trainers, administration, cheerleaders and alumni. Grantham said alumni are asked to occupy a section of the bleachers to limit sideline crowds.
Red Mountain recently had one football player test positive for COVID-19. Grantham said the athlete’s parents were in contact with the school and were transparent about the situation. Protocols were followed, including contact tracing and monitoring others for symptoms.
According to Mesa Public Schools, the student was last on campus on Oct. 9, the week of fall break. The school was made aware of the positive test on Oct. 12. District officials said no other athletes were considered close contacts and did not have to quarantine.
“We are following Maricopa County guidelines,” said Grantham. “We are communicating out via Zoom and Webex.”
While many fans find themselves at home on Friday nights, there are still ways to watch the games remotely.
Red Mountain games can be livestreamed on NFHS Network for a monthly or yearly subscription. The school also has a student production program, RMTV, that is run via YouTube and broadcasts the games for free each week.
Additionally, Mesa’s G.O.A.T. Sports Grill in Red Mountain Promenade also streams the games on Friday nights. Offering more options for Mountain Lion fans to get their Friday night fix of football with limited crowds.
Tyler Rohlfs is a sports journalism major at Arizona State covering Red Mountain High School.