#LetUsInNC: Parents push to allow more spectators at outdoor high school sports events

Parents protesting limited attendance at children's sporting events

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With days before the high school football season kicks off, there is a continued push to change the current order only allowing 100 spectators at outdoor high school athletic events.

“We’re allowed one ticket to home games so my husband and I have to do like a rock paper scissors, who gets to go. My parents won’t be able to be there and his sister won’t be able to be there. So these are just we’re fighting for the moments that we’re not going to get back,” said parent Meagen O’Connell.

O’Connell is the mother of two high school athletes, Finley and Camp. Earlier this month, she started an online petition asking Gov. Roy Cooper to change the guidelines.

Across social media on Monday, families started the hashtag #LetUsInNC and posted photos of them watching their child’s game from behind a fence.

“Today was just a chance to continue the message this time via social media to let us in North Carolina,” said Tripp Roakes.

Jennifer Helderman Harris said her son has been playing football since he was five years old. As a senior, it’s a moment her family wants to cherish.

“We want to be there for this final year you know so much has been taken away from our seniors this year as it is, and to have this to where they can’t even have their parents and family members to be there, it’s, it’s heartbreaking. It really is,” Harris said.

Parents say they just want a fair percentage for the limit, understanding masks and social distancing would be enforced.

“For instance, the high school (Weddington) my kids go to the stadium seats 5000 people. So 100 just doesn’t even make a dent in that stadium so I think I mean what we’re looking for is a fair percentage so that it works across high schools across the state,” said O’Connell.

For the athletes, no matter the sport, their hope is to see more than just one familiar face in the stands.

“That’s all we’re asking for so I mean, if that could happen, it’d be awesome and I think that really gives the players a big boost and really motivate us even more,” said Camp O’Connell, who plays on Weddington High School’s football team.

“It just means so much to like know that they are supporting me and they are there for me and it’s cool to just have people cheering me on,” said his sister Finley O’Connell, who is currently playing soccer.

Statement from Gov. Roy Cooper:

“Gov. Cooper understands the important role sports play in building character and strength in young people and he will continue relying on science and health experts as our state keeps battling this pandemic,” a statement read.

The current executive order signed by Gov. Cooper ends Feb. 28. Last week, a bill was filed to change the capacity limit to 40 percent.

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