INDIANAPOLIS — Fans at Friday night football games may notice some increased security methods this season.
Younger football fans will no longer be able to watch Hamilton Southeastern High School home games by themselves. K-8 students will need a supervising parent or guardian to attend games with them — otherwise they won’t be allowed to enter school grounds on Friday nights.
“I’m actually a schoolteacher and a parent of a fifth and seventh grader, so I like knowing that my kids are safe,” Nikki Bleill said at a game on Friday night.
Hamilton Southeastern School administrators said they made the change because of an “uptick in incidences involving unsupervised K-8 students.”
HSE High School graduate Wayman Fluker said, when he was enrolled at the school, it wasn’t uncommon to see unsupervised children running near the field during football games.
“When I was actually going to school here, there were kids running around all the time,” Fluker said.
HSE Schools Safety Director Mike Johnson said the district’s decision to take additional precautions remedies issues game day staff have faced for years.
“Our goal here is really just to make sure that everybody who’s in attendance at the game is safe,” Johnson said. “We’ve dealt with issues for years at these events. It’s not new that, all of a sudden, we have kids that have started coming to our games.”
Johnson added that he’s seen fewer parents decide to join their children at games in recent years.
“When we do have school-rule violations that occur, we seek parents to consult with at the game,” Johnson said. “We’re finding more and more that the parents aren’t at the game.”
Johnson said HSE administrators reached out to other central Indiana districts to ask how they deal with this kind of problem.
“What we found was other districts have this policy in place and we simply copied that policy for ourselves,” Johnson said. “Something that’s kind of occurring in other places in the area.”
Noblesville’s school district also asks that parents be on-site when their children are attending football games. Additionally, Connserville High School announced its implementation of a similar policy via Facebook on Thursday.
Some districts, like Wayne Township, have taken security a step further. Event staff checks that anyone showing up to a Ben Davis High School football game has a ticket before entering.
“The event staff stopped us coming in,” local football fan Maria Stewart said. “They’re stopping each car like, ‘Can I see your tickets?’ and I was like, ‘Oh that’s different.'”
Ben Davis fans must then walk through a metal detector, which is not new this season. Still, spectators said that, with previous incidents in mind, they welcome the extra precautions.
“For the safety of everybody, I’m OK with it,” Stewart said.