An online petition asking the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference to allow spectators at indoor sporting events has received thousands of signatures.
“It is extremely disappointing to the many athletes that are participating in the ACAC that we can not have any fans in the stands, even if they are following the health guidelines established by the Alberta government,” read the petition, which was created two days ago and already has more than 6,500 signatures.
“After over a year of not competing, the ACAC has decided to deny any team within the league to have fans. It is very discouraging being the only league in Alberta that cannot have spectators. The student-athletes have worked so hard to earn a spot on a high-level athletic team.”
Not allowing fans affects the student-athletes, their families, friends and “even school spirit,” the petition states.
“We are asking to allow fans to cheer us on while compete in the sports we love. All rules put in place by AHS would still be followed. Help us be heard by the ACAC board so we can make a change,” the petition said.
Like other schools in the ACAC, Red Deer Polytechnic is not allowing spectators for indoor sports, such as hockey, basketball and volleyball. Outdoor sports, such as soccer, can have spectators.
“As competition begins for indoor sports with Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics, our institution will align with the over-arching Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference decision not to allow spectators for indoor sports until further notice,” said Jim Brinkhurst, RDP interim president.
“This policy decision was approved several months ago by the institutional presidents of the 17 member institutions of the ACAC, including Red Deer Polytechnic. When we consider the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the health and safety of our student-athletes and campus communities across the ACAC, not having spectators is one more way to help minimize transmission of the virus.”
The pandemic “presents ever-changing circumstances,” Brinkhurst added.
“The ACAC, in collaboration with the presidents, is reviewing the policy. We will inform our community members if there are any changes,” he said.
“In the meantime, fans of our Kings and Queens basketball, volleyball and hockey teams, as well as most other teams, can view the games online with a subscription to the ACACTV streaming service, which is available at acac.ab.ca.
“We understand that community members and families of student-athletes are passionate supporters of our Athletics teams. We look forward to welcoming fans back to the stands when the ACAC and member institutions collectively determine when it’s best to do so.”
RDP teams have hosted exhibition games over the past month, without fans. Fans have been allowed to attend other sporting events at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, including the WHL Cup, in accordance with the Province of Alberta COVID-19 measures.