As UTSA clawed their way back into the game against Louisiana Tech last Saturday night, 6,114 fans cheered them on in the depleted stands. Empty seats lined the Alamodome; the striking changes needed to compensate for the pandemic were evident.
Most, if not all, members of the crowd adhered to all of the safety regulations required of them. Fans kept their masks on, even when they sat distanced from other groups. The occasional mask pull down to take a gulp of a refreshment or eat a handful of popcorn was common. No moment could’ve epitomized the strangeness of the year we’ve had so far than the sight of couples sharing a light kiss through their masks when prompted to do so by the Alamodome’s kiss cam.
Despite restrictions that involved socially distanced seating, fan attendance limits and six-foot spacing between attendees at concession stands, the mood at the game was very much like it always has been. Families showed up to watch their loved ones play, students took in the event as a way to fill their Saturday night and kids were treated to a live game of football by their parents. Fans seemed happy, entertained and, for the most part, unbothered by the problems caused by COVID-19.
At halftime intermission, a break usually used to go to the restroom or get a refill on snacks, fans walked around the main floors of the Alamodome, staying mostly to themselves but retaining a visible trust in the precautions taken by the Alamodome. No one was walking without a mask or failing to at least try to adhere to social distancing measures. The density of the crowd in the halls at halftime sometimes made it difficult, but they did their best.
When some fans were asked how they felt regarding COVID-19 and the measures taken by the Alamodome to protect them, most stated that they felt comfortable as long as they took the necessary precautions such as wearing masks, limiting interactions with others and applying plenty of hand sanitizer.
As the game came to its dramatic conclusion, it became more apparent than ever that the fans who had attended weren’t going to let thoughts of the pandemic dampen their experience at the game. The Roadrunners made big play after big play; masked cheers erupted after each one, and in those moments, it truly felt like there was some sense of normalcy in the arena. In a way, it’s what makes this pandemic so problematic: The illusion of safety and the inability to detect COVID-19 is what makes us falter.
However, the fans at the game should not be criticized for attending or trying to enjoy themselves. We all need a break sometimes from the now-distant and online world we live in. We typically crave social interaction and activity. Being at a sporting event such as a football game, despite its current limitations, isn’t a bad way to take a breather. The Alamodome and the fans themselves deserve credit for their willingness to cooperate with each other in an attempt to slow down the pandemic while also providing an escape from it.