Safety of athletes, fans top priority for JHS athletics

by Carlos Molina

Recent school threats have changed the way students want to attend sporting events. Some don’t feel safe being at school, let alone a high school game held after school hours.

So how is Jeffersonville High School taking proper precautions to ensure student safety?

“It’s re-evaluating what your safety procedure is,” Jeffersonville High School athletic director Todd Satterly explained. “Right now, we feel comfortable with our policy and the amount of security we have at events. I always have four officers at basketball games and six at football games.”

With football games being the biggest event attended by the community, safety is a major concern — not only for the spectators, but also for the players.

“Player safety, in any sporting event, is a huge concern. Whether its football or basketball, the crowd and students are more so of a concern,” head football coach Alfonzo Browning said. “I think it’s more so of an issue with the way things have played out here recently. There are so many people not being checked, you don’t know what they could be bringing into the building or game for that matter.”

Following the Parkland, Fla. shooting on Feb. 14 that claimed 17 lives, New Albany High School received threats the next day, leading to some frantic parents pulling students from school.

Despite the threat, that evening’s boys basketball game was not canceled, and proceeded as schedule. Satterly kept an eye on the crosstown high school, noting how they handled the situation.

“If (New Albany) still went on, then I’m sure they felt comfortable with continuing. Knowing (NA athletic director) Mr. (Don) Unruh well enough, I would believe as soon as a threat was made, that there was immediate action taken,” Satterly said. “It would be no different here, if we were initiated with a threat. The first phone call is to Mrs. (Julie) Straight, then central administration, and then get the police involved immediately to find out our options. (Finally) we’d notify the opposing school and notify our workers.”

With players being in the spotlight, though, their safety is the number one concern. Senior basketball and baseball player Hunter Schmitz doesn’t feel threatened, or in harm’s way during his games.

”I don’t worry about being safe at sporting events. You shouldn’t need to worry,” Schmitz said. “A precaution we could take is possibly adding more on-duty officers at these events.”

For future references, safety and security will continue to be a pressing matter. For now, spectators will determine the outcome for rules and guidelines.

“People won’t attend your event if they don’t feel safe,” Satterly said. “We plan for every possible scenario so our athletes feel comfortable. Unfortunately, we live in a time where those are things that we have to consider.”

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