As the pandemic rages on, everything we once took for granted looks completely different. Before football season began, the University announced all Big Ticket holders would have to take a rapid-response test for COVID-19, and only those who tested negative would be allowed entrance to Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Despite rising cases in Austin, students and Texas fans continue to gather in clusters, large and small, for tailgates before attending football games. Even though 1,198 Big Ticket holders were tested before they were allowed into the stadium for the season’s opening game, the other 14,139 guests met no such requirement. Any one of these guests could have infected their fellow spectators, and the University wouldn’t have known a thing.
Texas Athletics needs to enforce stricter admissions rules on all guests at football games. Anyone who wants a seat in DKR should be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
“The student section is the only general admission seating area in the stadium, so we decided to make the investment to test our students attending the game and seated in that area,” said John Bianco, the senior associate AD for communications at Texas Athletics, via email.
Bianco also said alongside the complimentary rapid-response tests being provided to Big Ticket holders, Texas Athletics maintained “larger seating buffers between (the student section) and the rest of the patrons in assigned seating areas.”
Hannah King, a biology freshman and Big Ticket holder, believes it is unfair that students who purchase individual game tickets and other Texas fans are not required to get tested for COVID-19.
“The whole reason Big Ticket holders are getting tested is to prevent an outbreak of the (COVID-19) virus from the game,” King said. “Not testing everyone in attendance is contradicting the whole process.”
As the season continues, Texas Athletics has three choices. They could continue their current practices, testing Big Ticket holders but allowing thousands of individuals to fly under the radar and potentially bring in COVID-19 because they were not required to get tested. They could cancel in-person attendance altogether, leaving students and other guests to watch the rest of the season on television.
Or they could take better precautions and be adamant that students and guests with individual tickets must take a COVID-19 test before they can attend a game.
Testing Big Ticket holders before football games is a step toward preventing the spread of COVID-19. Texas Athletics could continue in that direction by offering complimentary testing to general ticket holders the morning before the games.
Some rapid response tests return results in as little as 20 to 30 minutes for a single sample. Additionally, Texas Athletics could screen guests for symptoms and do temperature checks at the doors.
If Texas Athletics wishes to continue the football season, then they should consider the consequences of their lenient requirements.
In order to allow students and fans to enjoy football season without the risk of becoming infected and spreading COVID-19 on campus and in Austin, Texas Athletics must mandate that all attendees produce a negative COVID-19 test before attending a football game.
York is a rhetoric and writing junior from Laredo, Texas.