Require a Covid-19 test result to enter basketball games

Alyssa Ramos, Columnist

The Frank Erwin Center recently got clearance to resume having in-person audiences, which had Texas basketball fans buzzing with excitement. After having to close their doors from students and other basketball enthusiasts because of the pandemic, the Frank Erwin Center constructed new policies to ensure proper health and safety measures. 

Despite having guidelines in place to minimize the spread of COVID-19, the Frank Erwin Center should require a negative COVID-19 test result as an extra precautionary measure. This would allow UT students and fans to feel more at ease about their well-being while enjoying the game.

Some of the Frank Erwin Center’s guidelines include social distancing markers, hand-sanitizing stations and touchless payment. These guidelines are helpful as precautionary tactics, but they are not enough to put students’ health first. 

The additional requirement of a COVID-19 result is a necessity, as following social distancing markers is optional. The current guidelines put in place before entering the stadium are not enough. 

Carolina Gamez, a speech language pathology senior, voiced that a COVID-19 negative test result would put more people at ease while being at the game. 

“I haven’t really gone to sporting events because of COVID. Like, I haven’t put myself in situations where I’m surrounded by a lot of people. Only just because I’m at school, so that’s the only time I have to be exposed to a ton of people,” Gamez said. 

In 2020, UT allowed the implementation of a negative COVID-19 test requirement for football games. Big Ticket holders were required to provide a negative test result before entering the stadium, so requiring a negative test result to enter the Frank Erwin Center is entirely feasible. 

“If there were more precautions … being taken, and if masks were maybe mandatory while watching the game or if there were tests before watching the game, I would definitely feel safer and I probably would have attended more games by now,” Gamez said.

Though UT is legally not allowed to mandate masks, requiring a COVID-19 test result for entry is permitted. In light of the pandemic, requiring a COVID-19 result before entering high capacity venues has become a new normal in Austin. Many live event venues like the Paramount Theatre and ACL Live already require a negative COVID-19 test result to attend events as an extra safety measure for their fans, staff and performers. How is it that concert venues that hold a smaller amount of people than the Frank Erwin Center require a negative COVID-19 test before entering the venue, but stadiums themselves will not? 

John Bianco, senior associate assistant director for communications for Texas Athletics, declined to comment, but mentioned in an emailed statement that requiring a negative COVID-19 test result wasn’t something they required for fans at this time. 

The Frank Erwin Center needs to adopt similar procedures to the rest of the city in an attempt to regain regularity. Without a negative COVID-19 test result at the door, students and other basketball enthusiasts are at a higher risk of exposure for just wanting to have a good time. 

Ramos is a journalism freshman from Laredo, Texas.