From live screaming to livestreaming: schools installing cameras for sports

Football
Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier File Photo
If students at Los Altos and Mountain View highs aren’t allowed to attend games this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will be able to stream them on cameras being installed at both schools.

By Pete Borello
Staff Writer/This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The installation of cameras to livestream sporting events at Los Altos and Mountain View highs couldn’t have come at a better time.

The automated cameras slated to be installed in the stadiums and gyms at both schools this summer might be the only way fans will be able to watch home football games and volleyball matches during the fall season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With so much uncertainty about how COVID-19 will influence sports and how we view them this fall, the cameras could provide an unplanned benefit should games be forced to be played without spectators,” said Los Altos High School Athletic Boosters member Sam Player, who is spearheading the installation effort at that school.

The camera project has been in the works for more than a year at Los Altos, according to Player, whose wife Angela is co-president of the booster club. Mountain View got the ball rolling in December, boosters president Brett Schiller said, encouraged by then-principal and new Central Coast Section commissioner Dave Grissom. Schiller added that it wasn’t hard to get the district to approve the project once both schools were on board and their respective booster clubs agreed to fund the $2,000 installation costs.

“The timing is very good,” he said. “We started working on it with the district before COVID kicked in because we saw it as a nice addition to athletics and the school overall. Once COVID kicked in, it created a whole other possibility. If games aren’t played with crowds, it will allow everyone to watch them at home.”

Everyone with a subscription, that is. The games will be streamed online via the NFHS Network (nfhsnetwork.com), a partner of the National Federation of State High School Associations. Subscriptions range from $10.99 (monthly) to $69.99 (annually). Subscribers not only get to watch their teams – live or on demand – but also the games of any participating school.

“NFHS already has several schools in the SCVAL and other CCS leagues as part of the program, so subscribers can view the Eagles at many road games as well,” Player said. “Once a school recruits enough subscribers to the network to hit a certain threshold, NFHS will donate back some of the incremental subscription revenue to the school athletic program.”

Schiller said that his club is considering a promotion that would include a three-month subscription for those who join the boosters.

The NFHS Network doesn’t just broadcast varsity games; Schiller noted that all levels of every sport played in the stadium or gym during the school year will be streamed. In the near future, he said the boosters hope to install cameras on the pool deck for water polo and swimming, along with at the baseball and softball fields.

“After we get this running, we’re going to look into that,” Schiller said. “We’re calling this the first tier of it.”

Two cameras will be installed at each school. They come with desktop computers for production integration and video processing, according to the NFHS Network website, and scoring devices that plug into the score-boards. The high-definition cameras – made by Pixellot – are weatherproof and capable of displaying the game score and the time remaining in an inset on the screen.

“The cameras are permanently installed inside the gym and above the football press box,” Player said, “and will follow the action without need for a human operator, panning and zooming as appropriate from a sideline perspective.”
The streams won’t just benefit fans who can’t make it to a game but on-site coaches as well.

“The footage also automatically integrates with the coaching software (Hudl) many of the teams already use,” Player said, “so games are instantly available for analysis at the conclusion of each event.”
Mountain View athletic director and football coach Shelley Smith is excited to get the system – and not just from a coaching perspective.

“(It’s) great for people out of the area or not allowed to come (to games) due to COVID protocol,” he said.

Smith doesn’t know the exact date the cameras will be installed at Mountain View but expects them to be in place before school starts. Los Altos’ cameras will be installed Aug. 5, Player said.

{jathumbnail off}


Athletes get back to work at local schools

By Joe Perrino
Town Crier Editorial Intern

Limited workouts for fall sports are underway at Mountain View and Los Altos highs, and that’s welcome news for Mountain View athletic director Shelley Smith.

“It’s long overdue,” said Smith, who also serves as football coach. “It’s great for the kids, getting them out of the house and staying active. I’m glad we were able to get it through.”

The Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District has allowed practice-related activities since June 22 – with restrictions – as the Town Crier reported last month. No more than 12 athletes per coach are permitted on campus at a time to participate in the workouts. Athletes are only allowed to take part in one sport; playing on a club team simultaneously is prohibited.

This is the first time since the schools closed March 13 that sanctioned athletic activities are taking place on MVLA campuses. That’s why Smith said having a fall season is so important.

“It happened so fast that we didn’t have time to adapt,” he said of the abrupt ending to the spring sports season. “I feel for our seniors – we saw what happened last year – so I want them to get their senior season in.”

The schools should soon get an idea of how the fall sports may look. The California Interscholastic Federation July 20 is set to come out with protocols for the 2020-21 school year. Game and full practice scenarios remain up in the air, Smith said.

Once the CIF releases that information, Smith said he expects more sports will be allowed to begin their summer workouts. Usually around this time, basketball teams are playing summer league to prepare for their seasons, which begin in November, but a combination of COVID-19 and construction-related issues have kept them off the court.

“Our gyms and weight rooms aren’t in use, and both our schools lost their outdoor basketball courts due to construction,” Smith said.

Despite the reduced amount of practice space, Smith said it hasn’t stopped fall sports from returning to training. He noted that Mountain View has begun implementing safety measures such as frequent cleaning of the facilities and keeping workouts to small groups. Smith said the school has also been in contact with Riddell, Mountain View’s football equipment provider, about new helmets to help protect players from COVID-19.

“Riddell is looking to add a face-mask type of thing,” he said. “They have face shields on the eyes and they’re looking at extending it down to the whole mask.”

Such precautions have made Smith hopeful that the fall season will happen.

“Everybody that is involved in the decisions – from the state level to the CCS level to the district level – sees the value of athletics, and they’re going to work to get in a season of some sort,” he said. “I just don’t know what it’s going to look like.”

At Los Altos, athletic director Michelle Noeth said the Eagles will continue their district-sanctioned training schedule and assume the fall season will go on as planned until they receive more information from the CIF. Athletes need to submit proof-of-physical forms by Aug. 7.

Community college athletic board creates 3-part plan to restart sports

Town Crier Report

The California Community College Athletic Association Board of Directors has unanimously approved a three-part plan to allow its schools – including Foothill College in Los Altos Hills – to return to intercollegiate athletics for the 2020-21 academic year while being directed by health guidelines from the state.

Adopted last month, the action calls for immediate implementation of what the board has titled the Conventional Plan, according to a CCCAA press release. That plan keeps sports in their traditional fall and spring seasons – except for men’s and women’s basketball, which move to the spring.

If it is still unsafe to execute athletics within the Conventional Plan framework by July 17, the CCCAA board said it will move to either the Contact/Non-Contact Plan or the Contingency Plan.

The Contact/Non-Contact Plan places men’s and women’s cross-country, women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and women’s volleyball in the fall. The remaining sports – including football – would start play in early February.

If not able to enact that plan, the CCCAA board said it will fall back to the Contingency Plan, which keeps cross-country and women’s golf in the fall and places the remainder of the sports in the spring.

Sports seasons are reduced from their current lengths in each of the plans. The maximum number of contests are reduced to either 70% or 75% of their current totals, according to the CCCAA release, and post-conference competition would be limited to regional championships that must be completed within a week’s time (regionals go beyond the percentage allowed during the regular season). State championships would not be contested in the 2020-21 school year, CCCAA officials said in the release.

The board decided that fans will not be permitted at CCCAA-sanctioned sporting events until California moves into Phase 4 of its reopening plan. Once the state does so, districts and/or institutions may make their own decisions about allowing spectators at their events.

Working Group leads the way

The CCCAA board adopted plans that were formulated by its COVID-19 Working Group with input and feedback from stakeholders throughout the state, according to the release. It noted that the Working Group made its decision with six guiding principles in mind: health, safety and mitigation; student opportunity; budget and financial consideration; equity; elements of uncertainty; and informed decision-making.

“There were no easy decisions during this process, but everybody had our 24,000 student-athletes’ best interests in mind,” said Jennifer Cardone, interim executive director of the CCCAA. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t peer into a crystal ball and see what lies down the road. However, the plans give us a flexible roadmap that we believe provides the best opportunity for us to get back to providing opportunities for our student-athletes.”

The Conventional Plan is most like traditional sports seasons, though it is dependent on the state being in Phase 4 of its reopening plan by July 17. The Contact/Non-Contact Plan will be enacted if California is in Phase 3, while the Contingency Plan will be used if the state is in Phase 2. The Working Group intends to make a recommendation to the board after evaluating the state’s health guidelines ahead of July 17.

More details on each plan follow.

Conventional Plan

Cross-country, football, women’s golf, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling compete during the fall, beginning Sept. 11 – except for football (Sept. 26) – and the plan allows for 75% of the maximum number of contests currently permitted. The season, including any regional championships, ends by Nov. 25. All the remaining sports (badminton, baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and men’s volleyball) start competing March 1 and finish by May 22.

Contact/Non-Contact Plan

Cross-country, women’s golf, swimming and diving, and women’s volleyball – each considered non-contact or minimal-contact sports – begin competition in mid-September and conclude by Nov. 25. Sports will be permitted 70% of their current maximum number of contests. Basketball, football, soccer, water polo and wrestling would begin competition Feb. 13 and finish by April 17; all other sports start competing April 10 and end by June 23. Volleyball moves to the spring and starts competition Feb. 13, if it is deemed to be unsafe to compete in the fall.

Contingency Plan

Only cross-country and women’s golf compete in the fall; all other sports move to the spring with regular-season competition capped at 70% of current levels. Basketball, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling start competition in early February and finish by April 17; the remaining sports start April 10 and end by June 23.

Impacts on athletic training, game management and other factors were considered during the decision-making process. Non-traditional sports seasons (e.g., fall baseball, etc.) and showcases will not be conducted in 2020-21. Tournaments, meets and other multi-team competitions will be permitted provided county, district and/or institutional protocols are strictly followed for such events.

Sports also will alter any rules and/or protocols to fit social distancing and any other practices where necessary, according to the release. The California Community College Athletic Training Association provided extensive information to the Working Group to help guide a safe return to practice and competition.

“The health and safety of everyone involved with community college athletics – particularly our student-athletes – is paramount to this entire process,” Cardone said. “However, we know the vibrant role intercollegiate athletics play on our campuses, so we wanted to mitigate concerns as much as possible to get our programs back in action.”

Foothill athletic director Mike Teijeiro didn’t respond to the Town Crier’s request for a comment about the CCCAA’s three-part plan.

For a full description of each plan, visit cccaasports.org.

Perfectionism pays off for St. Francis swimmer

Nicole Oliva” width=
Courtesy of Nicole Oliva
Nicole Oliva commemorates her graduation from St. Francis High last month.

Nicole Oliva’s success as a swimmer – she ranks among the best to ever represent St. Francis High – is not just about talent. It also has to do with her mindset.

CIF announces guidelines for resuming sports in fall

Town Crier Report

The California Interscholastic Federation has issued its guidelines for restarting high school sports in the fall amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After several days of meetings with commissioners from the state’s 10 sections, the CIF said in a press release Friday that it will determine by July 20 if fall sports will continue as currently scheduled. The CIF is prepared to offer alternative calendars if it is determined by that date that fall sports may not start as scheduled due to ongoing public health and safety concerns.

The CIF also announced guidelines for returning to physical activity/training in preparation for playing sports in the upcoming school year. It allows for a coordinated reopening following the initial stay-at-home orders and also may be used if conditions dictate the need for increased restrictions in the future.

In anticipation of returning to physical activity, the CIF is providing resources to assist member schools and student-athletes at its website.

To address the impact that COVID-19 and school closures have had on students – recognizing that families may experience delays in obtaining appointments for their student for a preparticipation physical examination – the CIF said governing boards of school districts and private schools may elect to provide a one-time, temporary waiver of the requirement. The waiver would allow the student-athlete to participate in athletics for a maximum of 30 days from their school’s first day of practice in that fall sport.

The CIF also will grant a financial hardship waiver to students who transfer to a new school during the first semester of the 2020-21 school year “when there is a demonstrated and verifiable hardship condition due to financial difficulties,” according to the release.

For more information on the waivers, resources and guidelines, visit cifstate.org.


Schools »

Schools
Read More

Sports »

sports
Read More

People »

people
Read More

Special Sections »

Special Sections
Read More

Photos of Los Altos

photoshelter
Browse and buy photos