FSU, OU Allowed Fans, Many of Whom Ignored Protocols

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College football fans across the country would consider the thousands of Florida State and Oklahoma followers who attended games Saturday as fortunate. After all, many games were played in empty stadiums, and some scheduled games weren't played at all.

That's why administrators at both schools expressed disappointment in the fact that, given the privilege of attendance, some fans failed to follow established protocols — namely, mask-wearing and social distancing.

Oklahoma had communicated its mask mandate in August, and fans were greeted Saturday night by stickers on certain seats stating "Please leave this seat vacant." Yet, many in the pandemic-reduced crowd of 22,700 could be seen standing in clusters without any face covering.

Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione released a statement to The OU Daily on Sunday, saying he appreciates those who followed suit in ensuring safety while also saying "too many individuals fell short of expectations" during the Sooners' 48-0 win.

“We applaud and are very thankful to the majority of fans who complied with the mask-wearing policy and distancing guidelines at the game Saturday nigh," Castiglione said in the statement." You all did your part to help keep everyone healthy and safe.

"Unfortunately, we had too many fans fall short of expectations, and our message to those individuals is simple: we need you to do better. We recognize wearing a mask for an extended period of time may not be easy or comfortable. It’s not fun for us to enforce, either. However, right now it's a necessity. For the health and well-being of everyone involved, we're trying to set that standard.

"If we can do a great job of following masking and distancing protocol, it also increases our chances of continuing to have fans or even adding more fans at our home games. We won't get there with the effort extended on Saturday night. I know Sooner fans. We can and need to do better.”

Earlier in the day, at FSU's Doak Campbell Stadium, a crowd of 17,538 and an ABC television audience saw George State defeat the Seminoles, 16-13. Just as troubling was the sight of fans shirking their public-health responsibilities, leading to criticism across social media regarding the school’s ability to enforce its policies.

As reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, when the Seminoles’ revised schedule was released last month, the school announced it would adhere to CDC social distancing guidelines and limit capacity for home games in the 79,560-seat stadium to 25% (19,500). FSU sold seats (accompanied by a chairback) in pods of two, four, six or eight seats, and each pod was socially distanced to maximize personal spacing. Student seating (4,000 tickets spread out across a 16,000-seat footprint) followed similar guidelines.

The university also announced that masks would be required while attending games this season.

Reminders of that policy were part of Saturday’s game-day script and scheduled to be announced during the game, according to FSU.

"We were disappointed with some fans, particularly some student fans, at the Georgia Tech football game who did not comply with our policies regarding social distancing and wearing masks while in their seats," FSU athletic director David Coburn said Sunday in a statement to the Democrat.

"There was ample room for all fans to remain safely distanced. We have three weeks until our next home game, and we will re-double our efforts to both inform our patrons and improve compliance with the new rules.” 

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