February 20, 2021
A letter from Montana Swimming General Chair Matt Yovich:
Coaches - Earlier this week I announced that the Executive Committee of Montana Swimming had considered whether spectators would be allowed at the West venue for the Short Course State Meet in Polson and had determined that spectators would not be allowed. (The facility in Bozeman will not allow spectators.) After the announcement, I received more than 40 phone calls and emails about the decision, including many asking for reconsideration or to appeal. I appointed an ad hoc committee including a coach and athlete from the western part of the state and another MTSI board member to reconsider the issue. Their charge was to consider the issues associated with the spectator issue, and after considering all that they determined to be germane, they make a recommendation back to the Executive Committee. Except for the recognition that a final decision was needed soon, I placed no limitation on their investigation, evaluation and consideration of any and all associated issues.
The Appeals Committee completed their deliberations last night and provided their recommendation to the Executive Committee. The Appeals Committee recommended that spectators not be allowed at the Polson facility. As part of their decision, the appeal committee found evidence of and precedence for a national level meet held at more than one venue with differing public attendance policies. Their determination was based on concern for the health of the athletes, coaches, volunteers and public. It also raised doubts on the ability of Montana Swimming to meet the sanction requirements for the meet if key meet volunteers were not able to work the meet if spectators were present.
I heard one other argument several times that was not directly addressed in the Appeal Committee’s decision. It was that young and more novice swimmers really needed their parents to be able to make sure that they were comfortable and were able to get to their events appropriately. This is an argument I completely understand. Like all the rest, the young athletes that I coach will not have their parents watching them at the pool. They will also not have their main coach as I will be in Polson as the Administrative Referee. They will be prepared and have assistance from the rest of the Bozeman coaching staff and others, as needed. Teams have been asked to provide an adult to look after each team while at the pool facilities. Meet management for both facilities will provide swimmer marshalling personnel to help swimmers know what is happening and where they need to be. I am confident that the coaches and officials will be especially mindful of the need to assist and encourage the swimmers. Especially for the 10 & under sessions, we will not be in a hurry.
The lack of spectators is and will be unfortunate, but it is a necessary decision. Providing the opportunity for this championship competition without spectators is a far better option than not having the competition at all.
Please convey this information to your teams and anyone else, as appropriate.
Sincerely and respectfully,