While the world continues to grapple with the ongoing changes of normalcy within the COVID-19 pandemic, college football fans of South Carolina should be allowed to attend more than one game.
Little was known about the football season when students returned to campus this fall. In safely allowing for 20,000 fans to be at each game in Williams-Brice Stadium, the school has taken the proper steps to prevent an outbreak and allow its students to experience a sense of regularity.
While there is a justified concern in the health-related effects of COVID-19, many people seem to forget how the pandemic has impacted people’s mental health. A recent study found that adolescents are more prone to suffering anxiety, which is attributed to “disruption in their education, physical activities and opportunities for socialization.” While the health risks of the coronavirus are very serious, young college students aren’t generally at risk of suffering extremely.
Within the first couple weeks of students returning to the Columbia campus, many feared the school would shut down since there were over 1,000 cases; however, there were zero hospitalizations during this time. While the case can be made that younger people can spread the virus to more vulnerable people, overall cases have since gone down.
Enter football. While our Gamecocks might struggle to achieve a winning record, most students would describe going to their first football game as an unparalleled experience. Limiting that special exposure to what makes the university so great to only one game would actually worsen the current COVID-culture.
As a freshman, I was pleased to receive a ticket to the home-opener and to see how stadium workers dealt with fans and safety protocol. According to the CDC, wearing a mask, social distancing and disinfecting are all common ways by which to prevent spreading COVID-19. Within the stadium, stickers were placed six feet apart from one another to indicate where students were allowed to sit. While there were some cases of students neglecting the rules, the majority of people surrounding me were wearing masks. Hand sanitizer dispensers were present in the restrooms and other locations within the stadium.
With the team’s choppy record, the risk of COVID-19 and the cancellation of game traditions, many ticket prices for upcoming games have dropped along with attendance. With shorter attendance by regular fans, there should be plenty of open seats throughout the stadium for students to acquire. Student fans could easily be divided up to attend more than one game if around 5,000 students normally make up the crowd besides the 15,000 ticket holders, whose lack of presence has been very apparent this season.
Since coming to campus, it has been difficult to feel completely adjusted to college life with the virus. It wasn’t until attending the first football game of the season that I finally felt a sense of belonging and home within the Carolina community. It would be great to experience that same feeling at another game.
Students that attended the Tennessee game were responsible. No one wants there to be a reason to be sent home in a similar manner to schools such as UNC. In fact, allowing students to attend more than one game might actually push them to practice social distancing rather than pursuing overly-crowded tailgating, such as seen with the recent events at The Orchard Apartments.
The coronavirus has changed the global landscape in a manner that the world has never experienced before. Schools were shut down and people were cut off from socialization. With more being learned of the virus everyday and a potential vaccine in the works, the world can hopefully reach a sense of familiarity soon. However, in the meantime, fans should be able to attend more than one football game as long as they practice social distancing to gain that needed sense of normalcy.