The coronavirus pandemic has cast darkness on sports in Idaho and the rest of the world, but empty fields and stadiums will shine brightly on Friday night.
High schools across Southeast Idaho and the rest of the state are participating in the “Be the Light” movement, which has gained popularity across the country as a way to honor spring sports athletes who have lost their season because of the worldwide health crisis. Lights are being turned on at football stadiums, baseball fields and other outdoor sports facilities, shedding light and remembrance on an otherwise dim reality.
Many area high schools will light their fields and surrounding monuments at 8:20 p.m. (20:20 on a 24-hour clock) for 20 minutes on Friday to honor their class-of-2020 seniors and other athletes whose 2020 spring seasons have been wiped out.
Spectators are invited to drive by, observe, honk, wave, pray, make noise or otherwise support, but are asked to remain in their vehicles to comply with social distancing orders.
“It’s to honor all athletes, but specifically our senior athletes in spring sports that may or may not get a chance on senior night to get their recognition,” Century High School Athletic Director Steve Anderson said.
Century, Highland and Pocatello high schools are all participating in the event and will light the following facilities in Pocatello and Chubbuck:
- Century’s football field
- Irving Middle School’s football field
- Halliwell Park
- Iron Horse Stadium at Highland High School
- Osborn Tennis Complex at Capell Park
Idaho State University is also participating. The ICCU Practice Field, across from Holt Arena, will be lit.
Other Southeast Idaho high schools are also participating. As of Wednesday night, the following schools confirmed their plans to the Journal or posted them on Twitter or Facebook: Aberdeen, American Falls, Bear Lake, Blackfoot, Grace, Malad, Marsh Valley, North Gem, Preston, Snake River, Soda Springs and West Side.
Aberdeen, Bear Lake and ISU are beginning their ceremonies at 8 p.m. All other schools will begin at 8:20.
North Gem, which does not have lights at its football field, invites supporters to follow an ambulance escort down Main Street in Bancroft beginning at 8:20 p.m.
Pocatello’s Grace Lutheran High School, which does not have a football field, participated in the movement Wednesday evening, as not to conflict with Friday’s Good Friday church services. Signage outside the front of the school that said “GLHS supports #BeTheLightID” was illuminated.
“There’s been a huge positive response to it,” Anderson said of the movement.