Seventy-five-year-old David Bailey has been attending Middletown High School football games for decades, but now that tradition is in jeopardy because a Delaware school district is limiting the number of people at games.
Bailey, a former Middletown High School football player in the 1960s whose son was also on the team decades later, is one of many fans who may no longer attend games because the school district d’Appoquinimink, in the name of public safety, will now limit who can get tickets to home football games.
“We have huge crowds for Middletown. I mean, we’re filling our stands and supporting our kids, and that’s just a shame,” Bailey said.
The policy change will also affect Appoquinimink and Odessa high schools. The school district cited various incidents as the reason for the change, including a shooting last week near a football game between Middletown and Appoquinimink highs, as well as a shooting in Philadelphia this week that killed a player and injured five other teenagers following a melee.
Until further notice, tickets cannot be sold at the stadium on match day; students must present proper identification to attend; each player, cheerleader or party member can only invite five guests, who must be registered and show proper identification; spectators must remain in the stands, without the possibility of roaming; no bags will be allowed in the stadiums; and young children must stay with an adult at all times.
That’s not the only policy change following violent incidents in Delaware. After a few high school sports battles over the past few years in the state, some schools have pushed back the start times of their basketball games and others are holding Saturday afternoon football games to try to reduce crowds. .
For Bailey, the changes mean he will now have to make do with watching a live broadcast of Middletown High School’s home games.
“People doing what they’re supposed to and getting along and supporting the school and the team – we have to pay the price and I don’t think that’s fair,” Bailey said.