No More Drones at HS Sporting Events, NJSIAA Says
Are you afraid of drones? Many Garden State residents admit they get nervous when they see one of the unmanned flying machines nearby, because they tend to be unpredictable and they have been known to crash.
But there's at least one place you won't have to worry about drones: high school athletic events in New Jersey
According to Steve Timko, executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, drones will be banned at all NJSIAA athletic events until at least next year.
“The whole drone situation has escalated, and there have been some high profile incidents, including at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships, and we thought until we can get more information, and working with our member schools, that we would not allow drones during the regular season and during our championship," Timko said.
A New York City high school science teacher, who authorities say was piloting that drone, is now facing reckless endangerment charges. ESPN reports Daniel Verley was arraigned Wednesday in the drone crash that occurred on Sept. 4 during a women's singles match at the U.S. Open. No one was injured.
Timko says safety concerns are the primary reason for the the ban here in the Garden State.
“I mean what happens if the person running it loses control and it goes into the stands or goes onto the field. They’re not really small,” he said of the drones. “When you think about a drone flying over, there’s the potential of somebody really getting hurt by it, no is the answer right now.”
Tim adds there’s another major concern as well.
“How are the drones going to be used? Is it going to be used to scout another program, is it the haves, versus the have-nots,” he asked.
Timko said no schools have complained about the decision to ban drones. He also urged the public to take the "see something, say something" approach.
“If you see someone operating it, tell them that it’s not allowed at our athletic events and ask them to stop,” he said.
According to Timko, the ban will cover football and several other sports including “boys and girls soccer, you have field hockey, you have cross country, you have tennis, then you get out to the spring and you have boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, baseball, boys tennis, track and field.”
He saids the bottom line is this is a real safety issue and “here at NJSIAA the health and safety of our student athletes are our primary concern.”
Last month a group of high school football players got buzzed by a low-flying drone. The game was put on hold for 20 minutes after referees told players to leave the field due to safety concerns. Players from Ocean City and Middle Township high schools said they were in a huddle when they noticed the drone overhead.
The incident was reported to authorities, but the drone was gone by the time officials arrived on the scene.