Live streaming high school sports becomes the norm with spectators limited at games

High School Sports

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The pandemic has changed so much about how we do things – like watching a child play in a sports game.

New York state COVID-19 guidelines for sports include only two spectators per player, excluding many relatives and friends that would normally be filling the stands.

Schools have been leaning heavily into livestreaming options, whether it’s their own IT department, private companies or simply streaming over YouTube and Facebook.

Bret Johantgen describes watching his son’s West Irondequoit track and field competitions – almost like being there in person.

“They did have six cameras, that had show different areas of the high jump, the long distance events, the sprints, lot of angles which was beneficial,” he said.

Because the game was hosted at a private athletic complex – Johantgen paid $35 for a month subscription.

Shaun Jeffers with Section V says this is going to happen with private venues. But whether you pay a fee for a game on-site varies from district to district. Each district has a different approach unique to them, and many in Monroe County use a service Varsity Media.

“They could be using Facebook Live, Youtube,” said Jeffers.

James Simmons, Athletic Director in Canandaigua School District says the district does not charge a fee for games even before the pandemic, and they’ve embraced their IT department to get creative.

“We’ve turned to our IT department, we did this in house, we have cameras set up whether it be for girls swimming in the fall or soccer at our stadium. We provide access to folks at no charge,” he said. “If you look at the number of folks that watch, a number of them well over a thousand. It’s that access, feeling they’re still connected.”

Jeffers says you will have to pay a fee for sectional games. And a higher demand means a slightly higher fee.

“Typically sectionals cost $5 if you go to an event, what we’ve been strategizing and making sure prices are consistent with our pricing if you were able to attend in-person. You could watch boys diving event, $10.95 subscription for the whole month and then a week later is the swimming meet, so you could literally watch your student athlete participate for that price, which normally it would cost $10 for one person to go.”

Section V uses a contract for livestreaming with NHFS and Spectrum. “Our regular season our leagues our schools had to figure it out first, watching learning from what our schools are doing,” said Jeffers.

Simmons at Canandaigua says some parents may be frustrated with slightly higher fees, but many are thankful to be able to watch their child play from home with relatives and friends. For some, it could be easing the pressure to leave the house if someone has trouble walking or gaining access to transportation.

“Lot of folks that cant get out of the house they may be elderly they may be handicapped, they also may live out of state,” said Simmons.

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