COVID rules should apply to all athletic spectators

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed basically every aspect of our lives, you don’t need me to tell you that. It has impacted classes, social events, clubs, and to many people’s dismay, sports. 

While many student athletes were fortunate enough to get some semblance of a season these seasons looked drastically different, one of the largest differences being the presence of spectators and fans. However, some fans were still able to attend specific sporting events. 

Take basketball for instance. Players were able to hand out a certain amount of tickets to friends and family members but tickets were not publicly sold for the games. I can understand this to a certain level. I’m glad the players were able to invite family to watch them play -- especially the seniors -- but what I don’t understand is why Valpo allowed visitor teams to also bring in fans. 

Full disclosure, I’m a cheerleader here at Valpo. Valpo allowing a few fans into the stadium allowed me to have a handful of games. As a senior, I’m grateful for that. 

Let’s say the ARC was capped at 15% capacity -- I don’t know the official number, this is an example only -- why wouldn’t we fill that 15% with Valpo fans? If we are going to encourage indoor gatherings wouldn't it make more sense to at least only include people inside the Valpo bubble?

By allowing fans from other teams to come to the ARC, you are increasing the chance that our campus is exposed by COVID-19 to someone outside the “bubble.” We know what the COVID-19 rates look like in Valpo but what if they are worse in the state and city the visiting team is from? 

Indiana State was one of the teams who brought in fans to the ARC for a men’s basketball game. Indiana State is about three hours south of Valpo.

The real kicker? Several of the Indiana State fans didn’t wear a mask and remained that way the entire game. One woman even wore her mask around one ear as if it was an ear accessory and yelled the entire game -- no doubt spreading saliva droplets everywhere.

Allowing people like that Indiana State fan onto our campus and into our facilities jeopardizes the health of our campus community. Thankfully that woman was nowhere near a Valpo fan or student but it’s not worth the risk. 

If we allow fans into games we need to do it as safely as possible. We need to enforce masks and keep those outside the Northwest Indiana and Valpo “bubble” at a distance. We hold these standards for everything else. Why can’t we do the same for sports? 

I will give Valpo a pat on the back for the level of social distancing in the ARC. The amount of tickets handed out allowed for more than six feet between each party. I will also give a shout out to the Valpo fans. I was able to be at the last few home basketball games as a cheerleader and I was proud to be a part of the Valpo community when I saw our side of the gym all wearing masks properly and social distancing. 

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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