Cheering Socially Distanced

The+stands+at+Pridgeon+Stadium+remain+empty+prior+to+a+Thursday+night+football+game+against+Pearland+Dawson+High+School.

H. King

The stands at Pridgeon Stadium remain empty prior to a Thursday night football game against Pearland Dawson High School.

Hunter King, News Editor

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Football fans are feeling the unprecedented impacts from the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over two hundred thousand lives. Both Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District stadiums, that usually host thousands of fans every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night throughout the fall, are now left looking deserted and desolate. 

 

The reason that happened, however, is not by choice. The capacity for each of the stadiums was reduced to help diminish the threat that COVID-19 poses to the community, especially to older people who are at a greater risk to succumb to the virus. Ray Zepeda, the Head Athletic Director of CFISD, expressed the need to orchestrate a plan that could allow fans and parents to attend games while following the safety guidelines. 

 

“For spectators, this has really centered on us limiting capacity and requiring face coverings and social distancing between groups,” Zepeda said. “For athletes, similar precautions designed to limit interaction with one another when not actively participating and to require face masks have been beneficial.”

 

Crystal Gore, who is starting her first year as Secretary to the Campus Athletic Coordinator at Cypress Falls, has had to adjust to the atypical year. She sells the tickets to the students who want to attend games, but with new capacity restrictions, she’s only able to sell a limited amount.

 

“I sell tickets to the students for the student section; parents have to buy theirs online,” Gore said about the new ticket policies. “However, we had a great turn out last week. I am hoping that we come out in full force this week for Saturday’s game.” 

The Eagle’s Varsity Football team warm-up at the 10-yard line. (H. King)

Like most things throughout the last few months, profits have also been reduced because of the changes. Zepeda says that even though the district does not make exorbitant amounts of money through admission into athletic events, every little bit helps to offset the cost of offering the sport and the event itself.

 

“All monies collected for game admissions are deposited in the school district’s general fund,” Zepeda said. “As such, individual campuses are not negatively impacted in real-time by fewer monies coming in through gate collections. However, cumulatively it is not optimal to have a limit on the amounts of tickets that you sell for any contest. In a normal year, the money pulled in for athletic events would make a significant difference in helping to fund the activities themselves.”

 

Students who attend games at either stadium this season will notice that there are 90 and 80 tickets available for Cy-Fair FCU Stadium and Pridgeon Stadium, respectively. 

 

“That number represents thirty-five percent of the overall total seat count after taking out every other vertical row,” Zepeda said. “We are selling tickets at the stadium box office, but obviously, [we] have much fewer tickets available for sale this year.”

 

Concession stands will still be open for fans, but the items people might normally purchase are now being limited to prepackaged food and bottled drinks.

 

“[Doing that] will help us to promote the safety of our spectators,” Zepeda said. “We also have screening protocols for concession stand volunteers and personal protective equipment that we ask the concession workers to wear.”

 

With the University of Interscholastic League (UIL) holding all districts accountable to follow these important safety protocols, both Gore and Zepeda shared a similar message, urging people to continue their support as the season continues while also practicing the safety precautions in place. 

 

“While no one enjoys wearing masks and everyone would prefer to have large student sections without social distancing, we do these things for each other and to allow us to actually continue to host the events,” Zepeda said. “I would just ask that fans continue to come out to support our athletes and fine arts programs at sporting events that are held on or off-campus. I would also ask for their direct help by following all mandated safety protocols.”