(Updated Oct. 28, 2020)
As of press time on Wednesday, Oct. 28, the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference and the Maine Principals’ Association will not be allowing the press to attend the KVAC regional qualifier or the state cross-country championships.
The state championships have been moved from Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast to Saxl Park in Bangor after the Maine Department of Education changed Waldo County to yellow due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Class B KVAC championship meet, originally scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31 in Belfast, is rumored to have been moved to Waterville, although the LCN has not received official word that the venue has been changed.
But it really doesn’t matter, since all media, including photographers, have been banned from attending the championship meet.
No, this is not a Halloween prank. Oceanside Athletic Director Molly Bishop, who also serves on the KVAC cross-country committee, said the meet has reached its 100-participant cap with runners, coaches, timers, and athletic trainers, and there is absolutely no room for photographers to attend the meet.
After the KVAC announced Oct. 22 that the media was not going to be allowed to attend its championship meets, the LCN contacted the MPA for clarification on media at the state championship meets.
David Jeffrey, a member of the MPA cross-country committee, told The Lincoln County News on Oct. 23 that “the MPA is not allowing photographers” at the state meets.
“We have been told multiple times by DHHS that the number 100 for gathering includes the facility. We are currently at 100. At this time I cannot confirm that we will have the ability to host the media, as it would come at the expense of runners from one of the nine teams and six to eight individuals, the one coach from each team or individual, or our meet personnel,” MPA Assistant Executive Director Michael Bisson said.
Bisson said it is not a “hard no right now. I still have some work to do before Nov. 11 and 14.”
What a shame. Parents have not been allowed to attend meets all season, except for Medomak senior parents, who were allowed to attend one meet. Lincoln Academy did not have a home meet, so senior parents were shut out. And now, with the ban on photographers, they will have no keepsakes of their athletes running in the championship meets.
Gov. Janet Mills’ order that outside gatherings can have no more than 100 attending was designed to keep people safe to prevent the spread of disease. But it is unjust. The rule is the same for a gathering in a small backyard as it is at a large venue that stretches over 50-plus acres of open fields.
Surely there is one spot, way away from the finish line, where Mills, the KVAC, and the MPA would allow a photographer to stand and social distance. With my 500 mm lens, I could take pictures and be 50-plus yards away.
I appreciate that athletic directors and meet officials are trying to keep the kids safe. They are doing their very best to stay within the confines of Mills’ rules. But this one-size-fits-all rule is not in the best interests of the kids, who will not get any reward for all their hard work in this very difficult season.