County Schools Bans Bags, Standing at Games

A basketball and a ring

Bags, pocketbooks, backpacks and standing at all county sporting events are no longer allowed.

Count Schools Spokesman Kelly Jones said the new policy is designed to improve safety at ball games, and is not a response to the panic at the recent West Columbus-Whiteville game, or any other incident.

“This policy was not implemented in direct response to a specific event,’ Jones said in an email. “Our ongoing commitment to enhancing the safety of our facilities led us to identify this precautionary measure.”

Play was halted at the Viking-Wolfpack game when frightened spectators ran out onto the floor. The gym was cleared and searched by law enforcement, who found no evidence of weapons. No injuries were reported. The teams later finished the game in front of empty stands. Rumors of a possible shooting threat may have caused the panic.

In addition to the “bag ban,” all spectators at sporting events must remain seated during games. Previously, fans were allowed to buy tickets until the building reached capacity, and some spectators didn’t take seats in the bleachers. Now ticket sales will be limited to the number of available seats in a venue.

Jones said the new rules had already been adopted in some areas.

“Certain schools had already implemented bag restrictions, so we made the decision to extend this policy universally across all schools in order to be consistent and prevent confusion,” Jones said. “We will allow certain bags required for the health of the attendee on a case-by-case basis.”

All high school and middle school athletic events are covered under the new rule.

“We think it’s a common-sense move that makes the events easier to manage and generally safer,” Jones said.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].