Schools offer virtual attendance for sports events

Rob Maeske
The Chronicle-Express

PENN YAN – School athletics have changed much in the time of COVID-19. As the pandemic has continued, guidance from national, state and local authorities has affected the various restrictions put on athletic events or if those events can go forward at all. Schools have had to postpone sports seasons and drastically change their routines due to social distancing and mask regulations, with some schools opting out of sports all together until the pandemic calms down. When sports events have been allowed to get underway, attendance has been limited, deeply affecting how athletes, parents and fans can interact with the sports they love. To make up for restrictions put on physical attendance, several schools have turned to technology and social media to allow parents and fans access to events. 

Locally, Penn Yan and Dundee Central school districts have been streaming their sports events on YouTube and their social media pages in recent months, offering parents and fans the opportunity to attend events when physical attendance has been restricted. With regulations moving from limited attendance to no attendance and back to limited, the streams have been invaluable in letting people see the games and athletes they have been unable to watch in person. 

Penn Yan Academy, in particular, has been putting together some very high quality streams of their hosted Varsity events thanks to the efforts of Dylan Hassos and Erik Hobbs. Hassos is a junior at PYA, while Hobbs is PYA graduate of 2017. Both got their start in the school's Media Club, but have since moved on to more professional levels, running separate DJ/Entertainment businesses as well as forming a company together. Hassos currently operates as Extreme Hassos Entertainment (EHE) and Hobbs has QKA Sound N' Lights. The two combined their efforts in the way of FLX Sound N' Lights, which offers sound and technical expertise to weddings, parties, school dances, sports and corporate events.

"I've been doing this about eight years now, ever since I was in 9th grade," said Hobbs. "About two years ago, I came across Dylan...and ever since then we've just kind of clicked and our two companies started doing things together."

Hobbs and Hassos began their collaborations with school dances. However, as the pandemic began shutting down schools' ability to hold such events, the two young DJs began looking at expanding their range of services. Hobbs reports they've got one very successful wedding under their belts and have another booked for this summer. 

When the school first began streaming their home games, it was a barebones operation, with Hassos volunteering to run a basic stream from his personal laptop. However, as the need for regular and reliable coverage of sports events became more evident and response from a home audience grew, the school began funding a more professional live-streaming service and Hassos tapped Hobbs, who had previous experience in sports streams, to join him. When it comes to the live broadcasts, Hobbs is responsible for sound as well as creating graphics for the streams, while Hassos runs software operations and acts as general producer.

"I knew Dylan could do [these types] of things and do them to a really professional standard," said PYA Athletic Director Jon MacKerchar. "Erik was President of the Media Club when he was coming up through. Those two work really well together...to come up with a great performance."

"At first it was just me by myself," said Hassos. "The school started putting some money in once they saw the potential looking ahead. Then we started getting multiple cameras and pretty much everything we need to put on a pretty big live stream."

While Hassos and Hobbs have been running the technical side of things, WFLR has been acting as the voice of the basketball streams, with Lucas Day patching in to run play-by-play commentary that is broadcast on the school's streams as well as WFLR's coverage of the games. When Day is otherwise occupied doing commentary for Dundee's basketball games for the radio station, PYA's Dave Garvey takes over as Penn Yan's commentator. 

Currently, Hobbs and Hassos are primarily streaming PYA's varsity basketball games, though the school has also been streaming wrestling and bowling as well as JV and even Modified events. As COVID looks certain to affect in-person attendance for the foreseeable future, Hobbs and Hassos are prepared to continue their work with upcoming sports seasons. 

"I think we're going to be doing football," said Hassos, "and probably going into the soccer season and hopefully lacrosse."

"The quality of what they are producing for our fans and our community is top notch and above what anybody else in the area is doing," reported MacKerchar.

The streams as well as announcements of upcoming broadcasts can be found on the Penn Yan Athletics Facebook page (Facebook.com/PYAthletics). Previously recorded streams can be found on Facebook or on YouTube by searching Penn Yan Athletics. Likewise, Dundee's streams of their athletic events may be found by searching Dundee Central School District on Facebook or on YouTube by searching for Scotsmen TV.

For inquiries or bookings, FLX Sound N' Lights may be contacted by phone (315-521-5649 for Hobbs, or 315-531-3302 for Hassos) or email (dHassos@flxsoundnlights.com, eHobbs@flxsoundnlights.com) and additional information on their services as well as pictures from past events is available on their Facebook page (facebook.com/flxsoundnlights).

PHOTO: Penn Yan Academy has been putting together some very high quality streams of their hosted Varsity events thanks to the efforts of Dylan Hassos and Erik Hobbs.

Provided/Chronicle-Express