• phil cantor/@osgphil

SEC attendance plans are, um, ambitious to say the least



I guess it's always good to be ambitious, right?


That's my takeaway as most SEC football teams have made or announced plans to have anywhere from 0 to 30 or so percent of their stadiums filled by the end of September when they've planned on starting the 2020 college football season.


Hey, listen, to see 30,000 or so fans at a Texas A&M game or 20,000 at a Georgia Bulldogs game would be awesome. To see it done safely would be a huge ego boost to a part of the country inundated with some of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in the world, never mind the country.


But, in a world where having a gathering with more than 10-20 people without someone kick starting an outbreak is happening almost daily, I have my doubts. I'm not even including stupid things like the University of North Carolina in the ACC having to make classes completely virtual, off campus just a week after starting due to multiple outbreaks within the student body.


The whole thing is certainly not due to a lack of good intentions. The SEC has, while demurring on the size of crowds, mandated its universities require anyone sitting in the stands where a mask. It's a small step, but a start. I question how they'll enforce it, but the intent is good. Still, they can't test tens of thousands of people quickly on a game-day morning, and that's a problem.


The question to me is how to regulate so many people gathered in the same place, in semi-close quarters? Six months in, a frighteningly small percentage of people have been willing to do the things, never mind agree on the things that would keep the masses safe. How are we going to get 25,000 people in the same place thinking they all have done the right thing for themselves or anyone around them?


I'm not advocating "cancelling" the games at this point. I really believe with testing, good proactive behaviors and access control over players, teams can successfully play. It's much easier for the teams to keep players safe than the general public. I don't know that I could have said it a month ago, but I think now, it can be done.


The problem here isn't the players or teams, it's the fans.



I'm not even taking into account how schools are going to be able to control the amount of people who show up on campus for games and tailgating. That's an even bigger problem.


How do you tell a school who routinely puts 90,000-plus in the stands plus another 20,000 or so in the area for the tailgate scene how to socially distance and observer CDC protection protocol? How do you decide who gets in the stadium and who doesn't?


It's not an easy, and I'm not sure it's a "safe" decision. I for one, don't believe most people are self-aware or cautious enough to do a college football Saturday safely. I can't sit here and quote anecdotal evidence to prove my point other than the fact we as a society started to gain control over the virus, then began opening back up and getting careless, even after being warned, prompting COVID-19 to return with a vengeance.


How do you keep thousands of people grilling and drinking before a game kicks off in close proximity to each other safe? How do you convince a 25-year old alum, drinking since 8 a.m, that he needs to stay 6 feet away from his buddies while drinking out of a keg? Or grabbing food from a grill?


How do you tailgate safely? Seriously, I want someone who's done it on a regular basis to give me a good answer to that, I want to know.....


That alone makes me doubt the brilliance of allowing fans in a College Football stadium.


Maybe I'm wrong, there's a good month before the SEC starts playing games. A lot can happen between the time I write this (8/19) and the kickoff of the 2020 season. I hope the level of infections drops dramatically in that time period. I hope we stop passing the virus to each other without realizing we're doing it.


No, I don't want you to say "It doesn't matter not many people die from it", that's an idiotic argument and an insult to pretty much ANYONE who's ever gotten sick from coronavirus and recovered.



Yes, I worry about the players and their health, just like everyone else. But to me, the bigger concern should be the fans. As much as they love their game here in the South, I just can't buy into the idea that most of them can or will be able to go to the games safely.


That's the biggest problem of them all.

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