Coronavirus interrupts Legion's 73-year tradition at Hilliard football games

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group
The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has prevented American Legion members in Hilliard from performing their 73-year tradition of raising the U.S. flag at football games at Hilliard high school football games. The Legion has raised the flag at Davidson High School games after Hilliard City Schools added Bradley and Darby high schools.

Although Friday-night high school football in Hilliard has continued during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, an associated tradition has not.

The William R Schnug Memorial Post 614 – formerly the Hilliard American Legion Memorial Post 614 – has raised the U.S. flag at Hilliard high school football games since the end of World War II. The tradition has been kept at Davidson High School after the district opened two others, said post commander Thomas Rowe.

But protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have ended that tradition, at least for this year.

The district’s policy, developed in accordance with state guidelines, restricts the number of people who may attend games at Bradley, Darby or Davidson high school games this season, said Stacie Raterman, director of communications for Hilliard City Schools.

The district announced its policy in August and posted it on hilliardschools.org.

Student athletes are limited to four or two tickets each, depending on class rank, to watch games, and a cap is in place for home and visiting teams, according to the guidelines. Beyond that, no spectators are permitted to attend games, the guidelines said.

Read the Hilliard guidelines:Spectators for fall sports

The policy prohibiting spectators was communicated to the American Legion by Davidson’s athletics director, Nathan Bobek, according to both Raterman and Rowe.

Rowe said he believes the American Legion presented the district with a safe proposal to allow the tradition to continue, with a plan for a flag team to enter and exit from a gate  to prevent any contact with players, cheerleaders, band members or their families.

The American Legion wanted to continue the 73-year tradition at Davidson’s home opener Sept. 11 but was not permitted to do so, Rowe said.

“The first home game was on 9/11, and not being able to raise the colors was deeply hurtful since it was the 19th anniversary of 9/11.” he said.

The only other Davidson home game on a schedule shortened by the coronavirus was the homecoming game Oct. 2.

“We feel it is wrong for the school to turn us away from our 74th year of honoring our country at each home game," Rowe said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo