College football fans are so known for loyalty and ardor it’s assumed, given the COVID-19 green flag, they would descend in hordes to attend games in Baton Rouge or Tuscaloosa or Lincoln or Columbus.
Or State College.
Maybe not. Penn State sent its football season-ticket holders a survey via email dated June 4 with questions like: Will you wear a mask at Beaver Stadium? How comfortable will you be tailgating? And do you want to pay for items with cash? When will you be comfortable attending a game?
The results haven’t been announced, but our own informal “survey,” of season-ticket holders indicates fans would be pretty comfortable staying away, at least early in the season and perhaps for all of 2020.
Under the proposal, the University of Wisconsin — slated to open its season Sept. 4 against Indiana at Camp Randall Stadium — would start mandatory workouts on July 12.
“At this point, I would not be willing to go up there,’’ said Steve Ford of Mount Joy, who has had season tickets in his family since the 1970s. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.’’
Our survey is admittedly as unscientific as it gets: eight people who responded to an open query via social media, all of them adult males, six from Lancaster County, all having had season tickets for a decade or more.
For what it’s worth, none of the eight were willing and eager to go back.
“There’s no way they’re going to run big (attendance) numbers and follow all the guidelines,’’ said Todd Heckman of Lititz, a season-ticket holder since 2007 and a Penn State alumnus. “To me, that’s going to eliminate the experience, and as far as I’m concerned, you pay for the experience.’’
“You’re packed in so tight up there, and I’m a germaphobe anyway,’’ said Bob Ruhle of the Akron area, who’s had his tickets since 1985. “I’m not going to go at least to the first couple games. Let somebody else be a guinea pig.’’
The logistics of a “normal,’’ Penn State football game, which involve over 100,000 converging on a town smaller than Lancaster, apparently preclude any full-crowd games in the foreseeable future.
The social distancing requirements seem to mean very small crowds, very limited tailgating, probably testing or at least temperature-taking on the way in to the stadium and perhaps on the way out.
How much “experience,’’ do you have to take away, or provisions do you have to add, before it isn’t really a Penn State football game?
And since a majority of the roughly 90,000 season ticket holders will have to be kept out, who gets to come in, even if they want to?
All to be determined.
“I assume they’re going to need people to not come,’’ said Heckman.
“I got an email in mid-April that was (as if) nothing had happened. So I called and asked what happens if I drop $2,500 and they don’t play. The guy said he didn’t know for sure, but nobody’s going to get screwed.’’
Ford’s son is a recent Penn State graduate who works in health administration.
“He hears things, and he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do,’’ Ford said. “You know, 110,000 people have died. You can’t forget about that. And it’s not over.’’