Douglas: No fans is the right decision

Iowa State football fans rush the field with signs dedicated to quarterback Brock Purdy following the Iowa State vs. West Virginia upset on Oct 13, 2018. The Cyclones beat No.7 West Virginia 30-14.

Zane Douglas

The college football season is an exciting time for a lot of people, but for season-ticket holders and students, it can be much more than that. Going to games, watching top-25 polls drop and standing behind your team as it tries to have a successful season is something that a lot of people enjoy every year.

For the first game, however, Iowa State fans will have to do that outside of Jack Trice Stadium. Like it or not, it’s the right decision.

The original call was 25,000 fans from University President Wendy Wintersteen, and the message was endorsed by Athletic Director Jamie Pollard. The goal was to give the fans a chance to prove it in the stadium that they could follow mitigation strategies put in place.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has been hitting Ames hard, and trusting fans right now, after the school year started with parties and mass gatherings, could come back to bite the administration.

But more important than the administration’s public image is the safety of students and season-ticket holders. Fans in attendance at these games would be at risk through everyone around them, even if social distancing is done well. The issues wouldn’t stop with social distancing and masks, as masks would need to be removed to drink and eat — something that would be permitted had the decision not changed.

Enforcing the mask mandate would be made even harder with the ability to tell an official that you were just lifting your mask to have a bite of the food you brought in.

A capacity around 42 percent would mean there would be many people interacting at the very least close to the recommended 6 feet apart. According to the statement from Iowa State’s Athletic Department, the decision to reverse the original plan was at least partially due to “feedback from the community.”

Even if Iowa State were to go forward with this many fans for future games, the community still showed they were cautious enough about it to have a hand in reversing the original plan. There was no perceived reason anymore for Iowa State to go through with the original plan.

The trust that the university originally had with the students comes in a new form now as Wintersteen seemed to take the opinion of the public into account here to determine what to do.

I’ve seen a generally favorable response to the decision on Twitter and Facebook, but what is the reason for some of the negative response? To me, it’s a pretty obvious decision that comes with the advantage of safety. Safety that will, at the very least, be an overreaction.

I remember back in March when the United States was originally faced with the pandemic, and I saw tweets or articles about how we should aim to overreact rather than underreact. This is no different.

If we get to the end of the season and the pandemic is over, and other teams tried bringing fans in and it worked fine, then I’m happy to say I overreacted to the crisis at hand, but having the worst possible situation be seen as an overreaction is the best possible avenue I can think of.