- Associated Press - Friday, September 29, 2017

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The use of drones to record high school sporting events has sparked a debate among Vermont athletic officials.

The Times Argus reports (https://bit.ly/2xLozJk ) Vermont’s 75 high schools all have the authority to permit drones at athletic competitions. However, the Vermont Principals’ Association has banned the machines during playoffs.

Montpelier Athletic Director Matt Link said drone cameras offer a unique view of the field and the overhead perspective can help with game analysis.

Critics say the drones could crash and hurt athletes or patrons. Others say they are worried drones hovering above fields could be a distraction to athletes.

Drones were popular at last year’s U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships in Craftsbury.

Last week, a licensed Montpelier resident who had asked permission to record a girls soccer game with a drone was asked to stop filming.

“We looked into it and made sure they had a permit or license, and they did,” Link said of the person who made the request. “It was OK with the officials before the game, but during the game there was a protest.”

Only people near areas where the drone was flying could hear it, Link said.

The Vermont Principals’ Association says high schools can decide for themselves if drones are permitted at sporting events, but they are banned during the playoffs.

“Why do you need a drone?” said association Executive Director Bob Johnson. “Some people say, ‘We can photograph the game. It gives us a better view. We can see the game better.’ We’ve even had requests from the media to fly drones. The flip side is ‘Why?’ There are a lot of documented cases where the drone crashes into a crowd. I’m not saying that happens every time, we just see no reason to allow them.”

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Information from: The Times Argus, https://www.timesargus.com/

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