Morgantown, West Virginia – Characteristically, West Virginia University took the safe, easy way out of their handling of the COVID crisis. While other universities and schools around the country found way to allow partial (25%) attendance, West Virginia decided that any fans attending was simply impossible.
In the press release from the university, Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said the following: “We are disappointed that we will not be able to allow fans to attend the Sept. 12 home game, but we are working diligently to open our gates for Big 12 Conference play. It is our goal to have fans at Milan Puskar Stadium this season, but right now, that is not possible for the EKU game.
“Our primary collective University focus right now is on the start of classes and the safe return of our students to our WVU Campuses. I am hopeful that all of us will be aggressive in taking appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of this virus so that all parties can be comfortable allowing a percentage of fans to attend on Oct. 3 and beyond. Until then, I ask for your understanding of the decisions that are being made and trust that we are doing everything we can to welcome Mountaineer Nation back to one of the best atmospheres in college football.”
Although I respect Lyons’ concern with safety, attending an outdoor event like a football game is just not unsafe, particularly when fans are wearing masks and are socially distanced.
The likelihood of there being a major spread of the virus during a Mountaineer game is so microscopic and inconsequential, that it’s irrational to not allow any fans due to it.
Local and national leaders have agreed that it’s safe for children to attend school and teachers to be in small, poorly-ventilated classrooms with 20+ children at a time, but an outdoor football game at 25% is just too much to handle?
Rather than being a safety precaution, this feels a lot like a lack of preparation. How is it that the University of Texas is moving forward with a “safe, socially distanced seating plan” using 25% of Darrell K. Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium’s capacity but West Virginia University can’t?
The only difference is that Texas, which is one of the hotspots for the COVID in the United States, has planned ahead appropriately and will be able to safely have fans in attendance because of their preparation.
West Virginia’s lack of planning will make the Mountaineers’ season opener against Eastern Kentucky one of the least-anticipated openers in program history.
Our @WVUfootball season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 12 will be played without spectators due to safety precautions from the COVID-19 pandemic.
— WVU Mountaineers (@WestVirginiaU) August 20, 2020