Big Ticket holders split on new COVID-19 testing requirements for Texas Football attendance

Stephen Wagner

Being tested for COVID-19 before a football game is part of the price Texas’ student Big Ticket holders will have to pay to watch the Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium this fall.

In an email late Wednesday night, Texas Athletics announced Big Ticket holders will have to take a free COVID-19 test the day before football games this year, and only holders who test negative will be allowed to claim their ticket on game day. Texas Athletics did not release a statement requiring non-Big Ticket-holding fans to be tested before games.

“As an added safety measure, all Big Ticket holders wishing to claim a ticket for Saturday’s football game must take a complimentary rapid SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) antigen test this Friday, Sept. 11 between 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.” Texas Athletics said in the email. “Only Big Ticket holders who receive a negative test result will have the opportunity to claim a game ticket.”

Some UT students are okay with Texas’ new requirements if it means they’ll be able to attend home football games this fall. Others have mixed feelings and feel Texas Athletics is making students go through unnecessary steps to attend a game. 

Reed Senterfitt, a business honors sophomore and Big Ticket holder, is upset Texas Athletics made its announcements less than three days from kickoff, and thinks testing requirements should have been clarified when he bought The Big Ticket. Senterfitt said the new COVID-19 testing procedures even convinced a few of his friends not to attend Saturday’s game.

“So (Texas Athletics) sold us these tickets, right? But they’re having us go out of our way to be able to really use them, which wasn’t really specified when we purchased them,” Senterfitt said. “I just almost think it's somewhat of a ripoff. … It’s a lot of work to put on a football game, but I’m wondering why (UT) couldn’t apply this to maybe trying to get more classes back to in-person.”

Corporate communications senior Faith Osterberg bought The Big Ticket because she figured UT would find a way to have students at games, and she originally planned to attend Texas’ season opener against UT-El Paso Saturday. After finding out about Texas Athletics’ new COVID-19 testing requirement, she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to cut time out of her schedule to get tested Friday. 

“I need to try (to get tested Friday),” Osterberg said. “Will I do it? Hopefully. But I can also see myself waking up and not doing it. I want to go to the game, but there’s already a lot on my to-do list as it is.”

Osterberg said she hopes to attend the first game of the year if she does get tested, but she’ll feel weird adjusting to the new normal of pregame testing and a limited-capacity stadium. However, it’s an adjustment she’s willing to make if it means she can have the option to attend Texas games this year.

“I think it’s going to look like the Hunger Games,” Osterberg said. “It’s really going to feel weird, like the apocalypse. As long as they can put on the games and we can at least have a handful of students there, I’ve got no complaints.”