Three Rivers League Bars In-Person Attendance at High School Athletics

By now, fans of most professional sports — particularly indoors — have grown accustomed to seeing the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Durant perform without the benefit of an in-person audience larger than that of your typical YMCA pickup game (before the pandemic).

With competitive high school athletics set to resume in Canby for the first time in nearly a full calendar year, the Three Rivers League has determined that this trend will continue at the local level: Only certified coaches, athletes and approved event personnel will be allowed to attend contests in person.

The rule will be strictly enforced, according to the TRL: If unauthorized persons attend a competition, play will be suspended until that individual leaves the premises.

The statement — which was signed by the principals of the eight TRL schools, including Greg Dinse of Canby — said the decision was based on the input of administrators, coaches and other support staff after reviewing the latest guidance from the governor, OHA and OSAA.

“In most cases, even optimistic projections for the risk levels for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties provide hard ceilings for attendance numbers that are restrictive enough to make it difficult for schools to run events with the normal number of event personnel, coaches and athletes,” the statement said. “Including spectators has proven prohibitive for a number of reasons.”

Saying they understand the importance of allowing families, friends, and fans to watch as many contests as possible, the TRL principals said member schools are working in partnership with the NFHS Network to stream all varsity contests.

Athletic directors for each school will be posting links to their broadcasts on their schools’ schedules on the OSAA website. Fans may search the NFHS Network to find archived games as well as scheduled live streams.

“We know it will not be the same without friends and family in the stands this spring,” the statement said. “Still, we understand how important it is to provide this opportunity for our student-athletes to ‘dare greatly’ in the face of the adversity of the past 12 months, regardless of what precautions we must take to make it happen.

“Many doubted we would be able to arrive at this point. We appreciate the support it took to get here and thank the athletes, parents, and coaches who made it possible.”

The NFHS broadcasts will be facilitated by new technology, the Pixellot, a fully automatic sports camera that will be stationed at Cougar stadium and the main gym, and works without an operator.

“It’s actually the same technology the NBA used in the bubble,” Canby Cougar football coach Jimmy Joyce said, referring to the Covid-19 isolation zone the National Basketball Association created at Walt Disney World to complete its regular season and playoffs last year.

“It’s a way for people to be present without actually being present. And until we can get fans back in the stands, and we don’t know when that will be, it’s a way for us to stay connected, in real-time and watch these great young men and women go out and compete.”

All of Canby’s opponents have the same technology, Joyce said, so fans will be able to enjoy a uniform experience regardless of if the Cougs are at home or away.

Canby’s home contests will be livestreamed free, the district announced this week. Users will be required to pay a fee to watch away games or other teams’ contests live, $10.99 monthly or $69.99 for a full year.

The news that competitive, OSAA and school-sanctioned athletics would resume in March came after months of pressure by parents, student-athletes, coaches and others, pointing to data in other states that appeared to show that even full-contact sports could be held safely with restrictions in place, and citing the important role extracurriculars can play in kids’ mental, emotional and social well-being.

“No matter how you look at it, kids have been put in a tough situation for about 12 months now,” Joyce said. “And to have a little light at the end of the tunnel, to be able to play in a football game in less than two weeks, is pretty cool.”

The Canby Cougar football team will kick off its abbreviated, six-game regular season at 7 p.m. Saturday at home against the Clackamas Cavaliers.

Canby volleyball will host Tualatin Wednesday, March 3, at 7 p.m. The boys’ soccer team also kicks off its season at 7 p.m. that night, hosting Gresham at Cougar Stadium.

The girls’ soccer team’s first game will be on the road against Sherwood, with kick-off at 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 5.

Finally, the boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams host their first meet at home Wednesday, March 3, with Oregon City and West Linn.

Hear more from Coach Joyce on Episode 248 of Now Hear This: Canby, “Return of the Cougars”:

Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!