Less than 24-hours before Thursday’s Colorado State Basketball Final Four games, the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) announced the attendance for the games will be limited to essential team personnel.
Following the original statement, CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green tweeted an update, explaining a limited amount of families will be allowed in.
“In negotiations tonight for a compromise on family/guest for each player. We can allow each player to have a maximum of four family/guest to attend their game. CHSAA will waive ticket costs. Asst. Commish Borgmann will communicate directly on protocol to each coach/school.”
This decision comes after concerns regarding the COVID-19 Virus have rapidly arisen across the country and the state of Colorado. Blanford-Green expressed that the decision to prohibit fans was a tough one, but it was made to protect the participating athletes.
“While this decision is a difficult one, we do want the students who have worked so hard to be able to have a culminating event that reflects the commitment they have made throughout the season," Blanford-Green said, “we knew that this was an evolving situation, and our goal was to have a tournament that goes on without interruption, but circumstances have changed with this pandemic, and the focus must now be on how we give the kids the experience of a state champ event."
Essential personnel includes only those submitted on the official gate list submitted by each individual school. Media personnel is allowed, but only with a CHSAA-issued pass.
This decision comes along with similar situations across the sports world. The NCAA announced earlier this afternoon both the men’s and women’s basketball tournament will be played without fans and the NBA has suspended the regular season until further notice.
CHSAA’s decision in relation to the Coronavirus is a devastating one for every team playing in this weekend’s state tournament, but especially for the Berthoud High School Spartans girl’s team.
Just last Friday, the BHS gym was packed full with hundreds of fans uniting together from around the community to cheer on the Spartans. The crowd’s chants, cheers, and overall support were a huge part of the Spartans’ victory that night.
Various players and coaches from the team expressed their gratitude for the community support, thanking them for helping the Spartans reach the Final Four. The support wasn’t going to stop there as families of the players, fans, and students were planning to make the trip to The Denver Collesium for Thursday afternoon’s game.
CHSAA explained there will be information regarding refunds for those who already purchased tickets. BHS athletic director Michael DeWall informed students if they had purchased a ticket to ride the Spirit Bus, they will also be refunded their money.
A few coaches and players from the team gave statements regarding the news. Head coach Alan Gibson’s was shared on Facebook by team parents:
“We have just been notified that only players, managers, and coaches will be permitted to attend the state basketball tournament games. We are extremely disappointed that our parents, families, student body and community fan base will not be able to travel with us and be the supportive force they’ve been all season. Regardless, our girls will play with the energy, enthusiasm, passion, and spirit that has become their trademark. We hope that everyone will watch the game on the link below, and we know you will be with us in spirit. We have no choice in this matter, but we do have a choice in how we react to it. Let’s go at it with the same 2020 Vision we’ve had all season and the attitude that “all the best players can’t beat the best team.”
One of Berthoud’s assistant coach’s Maggie Murtagh also gave a statement, hers directly to the community on the “Berthoud Community” Facebook page:
“I’m so sorry to all the fans that were planning on coming to the game, and even more upset for the amazing parents who are unable to watch their girls play... our girls will work their butt off though and play their heart out as usual. Check us out online and keep up the support! Hoping to hear you through the computer.”
The best way the community can show their support at this time is to attend the team’s sendoff tomorrow morning, beginning at 10:40. The girls will be recognized in the BHS commons and directly following will have a police escort out of town. Community members should line Mountain Ave as the Spartans make their way to Denver.
Fans will be able to stream the game online at the originally scheduled time of 4:00 pm. BHS Student Council and Athletic Director are actively working on organizing a watch party for the community and students at BHS.
This article will be updated as the story develops.