BUTLER, Ind. (WANE) —With face masks and a limited number of fans allowed in, we’ve seen that high school football stadiums across Indiana look a lot different this season.
Supporting their teams during the COVID-19 era has also been an adjustment for fans who aren’t lucky enough to get a ticket into the stadiums each week— which is why many have resorted to at-home watch parties.
“Every away game that we can’t go to we have a little watch party at different people’s houses,” said Sullivan Kessler, a senior at Eastside High School. “We just kind of sit around and enjoy it, eat snacks and watch the game.”
This week, Kessler and her friends watched their Blazers shutout the Garrett Railroaders 40 to 0. The watch party consisted of about 12 students and six adults, who set up a 70-inch TV outdoors and made a bonfire to keep warm.
Kessler said originally finding out students couldn’t attend every game this season was difficult for both fans and members of the football team.
“It was devastating for us. It’s our senior year so we were just trying to make the most memories we can,” said Kessler. “I think being a player that is very disappointing for the boys. They like us to be there and really enjoy having us cheer them on.”
However, the watch parties have made the circumstances more enjoyable for everyone.
“It was really hard at first to find the good but it’s really nice that we found a way to still be there for each other,” said Molly Holman, another senior at Eastside. “They see videos of us supporting them and I think it pushes them to do better.”
This particular friend group has only had watch parties for away games as Eastside allows up to 100 students into a student section set up in the end zones for games held at home. 270 other fans are also permitted in the bleachers at home games.
Kay Wilson, an Eastside football fan, whose daughter hosted the party said if it were any other year, her family would be attending every game, regardless if it was home or away.
“The games are really important to everybody. They bring everybody around, they get excited,” said Wilson.
She also said watch parties have become a “pretty big thing” around the community.
Wilson attributes her love of Eastside football to watching her best friend’s sons play, which is something she doesn’t get to do in person every week this year. Her best friend is able to go to more games because her son is a member of the team.
“That’s been difficult. We miss that, she still texts me through the game and I text her,” said Wilson. “But we have been able to do a watch party together.”
Next week, Eastside has a home game against Prairie Heights.