Although there is no shortage of reasons to avoid events with thousands of attendees during a viral pandemic that thrives on large gatherings to spread, Saturday’s game can and should be an opportunity to not just show off Auburn’s ability to coordinate an event, but an opportunity to show off the Auburn Family’s commitment to the wellbeing of its fellow members and where its values lie.
As America’s death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 200,000, or well over two Jordan-Hare Stadiums at full capacity, the time is just as pressing as any to embrace all the health precautions and measures to the fullest extent.
You’ve heard your favorite football coach say for months now something along the lines of: “No mask, no football.” As is the case with most football coaches opining on issues of politics or public health, the message was oversimplified.
Despite the cruel and revealing reality that threatening the existence of college football is the best motivation to combat a disease that has killed an average of roughly 1,000 Americans a day for months, the underlying mantra has been repeated by every public health official ad nauseam — if we want any semblance of normalcy in our lives, we must do everything in our power to limit the spread of this deadly disease.
But of course, tell Americans what to do collectively, and they’ll figure out what they can get away with individually.
This is why nearly seven months and hundreds of thousands of lives into this pandemic, here we are, still trying to flex our event-planning muscle, while many other countries around the world are able to move freely, a way of life unrecognizable to us in this moment in time.
If we are to see a week two, or any of the rest of this bizarre season, some responsibility falls on University administrators, local officials and every game day worker.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
But the people who have the most responsibility on their shoulders are us, the students.
Making up the vast majority of the limited number of fans attending the game, every last student who decides to make their way to the stadium on Saturday owes it to their fellow students, fans and athletes who have made even more sacrifices this summer than the normal amount of commitment to an SEC football program, which falls just short of signing over their first-born child.
Many people rightfully point out that the risk of transmitting the coronavirus is much, much lower outside than it is inside. However, they would be dead wrong to extrapolate this to mean the precautions for game day that the University detailed last week are unnecessary or overly burdensome.
Bathrooms, gates and other close quarters throughout the stadium are prime places to become metaphorical Petri dishes, leading to many infections as a “super-spreader” event, which sounds all too familiar to the scenes at downtown bars that may have accelerated the spread of the disease and caused large infection spikes in the community.
Let’s not keep making the same mind-numbing mistakes.
Unfortunately, our country is much better at finding biological shortcuts to make the world conform to us than it is at adjusting to a legitimate healthcare concern. But that does mean, with months of feeding the new sub-industry of COVID-19 research, science has given us a solid bag of tools to fight the disease.
So, if you’re going to the game this weekend, make sure to bring a mask, socially distance and sanitize frequently. But maybe most importantly, check your privilege at the gate. Because if not, you may not have another chance this season.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman