You can lead a horse to water…

… but you can’t make him drink is the old expression.  Unfortunately, it won’t be horses attending football games.

When the Football Bowl Subdivision kicks off its season one week from now, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves plans to be in Hattiesburg, Miss. — watching Southern Miss face South Alabama from a seat in M.M. Roberts Stadium.

There is little doubt in Reeves’ mind that it is safe to play college football amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and little question about the sport’s value to broader society.

“It’s critically important to the mental health and the psyche of all Mississippians, that we have college football,” Reeves told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday…

In Mississippi, where pre-game revelry at The Grove in Oxford and The Junction in Starkville have become synonymous with college football gamedays, Reeves even went so far as to prohibit tailgating on a statewide level in an executive order, while also capping stadium attendance at 25%.

“We’ve gotten so good at (tailgating) now that, in my opinion, it lends itself the potential to be a high-risk environment for the spread of this virus,” Reeves said.

You can ban tailgates.  You can plan down to the nth detail, like Georgia’s Josh Brooks.

Brooks said Georgia’s athletic department first started working on its plan for Sanford Stadium in late April and early May, using regulations from local and state authorities — and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — as a guide.

At the crux of the school’s plan, and most others, is the concept of social distancing — creating at least six feet of separation between fans whenever possible. This starts with seating arrangements, in which blocks of fans are buffered from one another in all directions by empty seats. The same concept applies at stadium entry points, where metal detectors are spaced out, and on the concourse, where a full complement of concession stands will be available for a fraction of the stadium’s normal fans.

Brooks said the school never set out to accommodate a certain number of fans, instead working backwards from what social-distancing measures would allow. Athletic department staffers even mapped out individual sections of the stadium by hand, he said.

In the end, though, it still comes down to hoping fans do the right thing.

In many instances, however, officials recognize it comes down to trust. At the end of a game, the school can open more gates in an attempt to avoid bottlenecking at an exit — but it is ultimately up to fans to utilize them…

As the mayor of Athens-Clarke County in Georgia, Kelly Girtz understands what Bulldogs football means to the community. But he also said there’s “absolutely some uneasiness” on his part about having 23,000 fans at Sanford Stadium for Georgia’s home opener on Oct. 3 — protocols or not.

Girtz said he worries about the possibility that crowds at football games could create a “network” of transmission between SEC cities, elevating the risks of spreading COVID-19 in all of their towns, collectively. He worries about the peripheral activities that come with football — the parties, the bar outings, the fans traveling in from neighboring counties or states to attend a game. And he worries about the burden that college football games with fans could put on first responders in Athens.

Good luck with that.  Hope’s been doing a bang up job so far with college football.


Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

19 responses to “You can lead a horse to water…

  1. willypmd

    I know your political leanings will make this point of view less palatable, but isn’t it at least plausible that the second spike was due to mass protesting and not due to all those stupid republicans/college football fans not wearing masks and socially distancing?

    John’s Hopkins daily case data tells a pretty compelling story here: with cases massively spiking 10-14 days after late May/early June when states were opening and BLM protests started in earnest. If case volume increases were due to re-opening you would think cases would have continued to rise or plateau; however, that’s not what you see.

    I am open to either explanation or both, but it seems by your commentary that you are only open to considering one of those explanations…


    • Since the coronavirus knows bupkis about politics, my “leanings”, as you put it, are irrelevant.

      FWIW, I don’t think any large gathering where people are maskless helps control the spread of COVID, political or otherwise, but if you are seriously trying to chalk up the latest bump to that and that alone, perhaps we should discuss your leanings.

      I am not going to get into a stats battle with you, but looking at numbers nationally instead on a state-by-state basis isn’t illuminating.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Got Cowdog

      It’s anecdotal (albeit a large one) But we opened our school district to students Monday. The original/beginning positive’s were very low, right around 0.5%. We are keeping daily and weekly tallys on cases to keep up with spread and to make decisions on whether to continue FtF instruction.
      Our district encompasses 429 square miles, 32k in student and staff, with 36 campuses. There are another 6 support facilities.
      I know Covid stats are verboten here, but I don’t mind sharing the data we find as a real time control while we put large groups back together. W are masking, distancing, and sanitizing as much as possible.
      I have to admit, by and large we’re doing as good a job with it as can be done. I’m excited that we can make this work and that gives me hope that we’ll get to see some football this season.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Spell Dawg

      Floyd was killed on Monday, May 25th. Nationwide BLM protests started several days after, your suggested timeline doesn’t jibe with the data and the known infection timeline. Look at state graphs:
      spikes in early states like FL, AZ, TX, etc., were already underway in late May early June. It takes from several days to weeks before an infected person begins shedding virus, BLM protests could not be the cause, there’s not enough time in the scenario. Spikes are not explosions, they are snowballs that time to get rolling. Reopening and widespread rejection of mask-wearing at the beginning of May were the cause, there is no other rational explanation.

      Liked by 3 people

      • bmacdawg87

        There is no one single cause. Re-opening was a factor. Mask rejection was a factor. Mass gatherings and protests were also a factor. Rejecting any one of the above shows your ignorance toward truth in favor of politics which is quite frankly, gross and what’s wrong with people today on both sides of the spectrum. I just can’t fathom people can tell themselves and actually believe that people gathering in a restaurant or anywhere else (reopening society) was idiotic and stupid and caused the spike, while people gathering by the thousands arm to arm and shoulder to shoulder protesting, looting, and rioting was perfectly OK and contributed nothing. Also works the other way around.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Spell Dawg

          Outdoor mass gatherings have not been mass-spreading events, not saying there isn’t spreading happening at them, but the preponderance evidence to this point indicates this virus spreads best in closed environments where (large) groups of people share the same air for an extended period of time. I am following the science, you are injecting words like “looting” and “rioting” which add no intrinsic value to the discussion. Find a mirror, stare deeply into it.


    • miltondawg

      This isn’t a political leaning reply. This is a data supported reply. The “spike” everyone likes to talk about, in relative terms, isn’t nearly as much of a horrifying spike as you are led to believe. If you normalize the new case numbers to a past date (in other words, take the number of positives based on the number of tests as a ratio), the spike looks much more like a small mound. Second, the problem with the data is that even as respected as JHU is, the 180,000 number is both “from COVID” and “with COVID”. The number of deaths from is much lower. Third, the numbers published do not take into account that the same person can be tested multiple times and be positive multiple times (two of the people that I know needed two negative results to go back to work and they both tested positive at least once after their initial positive test). Lastly, the false positive (as we saw with the NFL) is a real thing and it dramatically can affect results and the published data. I doubt that most people who get a false positive and are asymptomatic question the lab results.×900


  2. Sam Johnson

    Trust rather than hope is the critical variable for me. I really want to attend, even if I get Vandy as my game. I’d wear an N95 mask, take Purell and go early and leave either early or late to avoid any bottlenecks. My concern is other fans sitting near me and not wearing masks while chattering and yelling for 2-3 hours. I don’t trust my fellow fans to wear masks or UGA to diligently enforce this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Russ

      Sam, you nailed it. As much as I’d love to go to an event, when I have to rely on the courtesy and common sense of others to help keep me safe, I’m just not taking that chance. Common sense and common courtesy are anything but common these days.


    • You won’t be going then because the mask isn’t required once you are in your seats. Masking will only be required on entry, exit and movement throughout Sanford.

      Distancing will solve the problem when fans are in their seating location which will be enforced with seatbacks.


  3. And he worries about the burden that college football games with fans could put on first responders in Athens.

    This is pure bollocks. I need someone who speaks Idiot to translate how 1/4th the normal attendance will strain first responders in comparison to what normally happens on game days. What else are they doing? There isn’t an increase in crime or fires or emergency room visits. Does he think the 25,000 out-of-towners are going to contract COVID and immediately hospitalize in Athens? What a moron. As an Athenian who is watching the Mayor, Commission, and school district flail about for the last five months, I expect this nonsense, but no one with a brain should give anything Kelly says an ounce of credence.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Muttley

    We’d all love to live in a world where “the mental health and the psyche of all Mississippians” is a bigger priority.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think the largest problem is that because of financial incentives, and other reasons, the information is so flawed we really do not know what we are dealing with and how big or not the problem is..


  6. Teacher Martin

    If I was a Mississippian I wouldn’t care anything about football the way Mississippi teams play.

    Liked by 1 person