The coronavirus pandemic has raged on for over a year and everyday life continues in a new normal. The way we watch sports has changed, with a reduced crowd and at times even no crowd at stadiums. However, there is always that desire to celebrate a monumental victory, especially in college football. Despite pandemic restrictions, two moments occurred that makes one question where are the students’ priorities? One of those incidents occurred on November 7, 2020.

The game was played at Notre Dame Stadium, in South Bend, Indiana. A normally packed crowd of over 80,000 was reduced to over 11,000 to adhere to physical distancing measures. The starting quarterback for Clemson, Trevor Lawrence did not play as he tested positive for the Coronavirus just days before the game. Despite that obstacle, it was still a fun and exciting game in which Notre Dame defeated Clemson in double overtime by a score of 47-40. But what happened afterwards probably shocked more than a few people.

It was the first time Notre Dame had beaten Clemson since 1977, and the latter was the number one team in the U.S. Associated Press Top 25 College Football rankings at the time – Notre Dame being number four. The result caused the crowd to storm the field. While it looked like a great scene, it was cause for concern. The young crowd, caught up in the emotion without thinking about the consequences to themselves, their friends or even their teachers, just wanted to celebrate with the players. However, that was nothing compared to what transpired over a month later in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

College football played their national championship game on January 11, 2021, in Miami, Florida. Hard Rock Stadium capped their capacity at around 15,000 fans to adhere to COVID protocols. The two contenders – Alabama and Ohio State played a competitive game for most of the first half. Alabama pulled away after halftime and trounced their opposition 56-24. Those in attendance supporting their team celebrated. As it turned out, that was not the only party that night.

Several days before the game, the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Walt Maddox, implored fans to celebrate a potential victory responsibly, and take into account COVID restrictions. Despite those warnings, fans still went to bars and watched the game. Afterwards, it seemed like all of the city emerged onto the streets and partied – most of whom were maskless. I am sure the Alabama Crimson Tide players would have opposed to that and would have preferred a celebration when the pandemic subsided. I know head coach Nick Saban would not have appreciated what those fans did, after all, he too tested positive during the season.

We all hope for an end to the pandemic. If we all adhere to the guidelines of wearing a mask, distancing, and consistently washing hands, a sense of normalcy will return. Watch sports from home, but celebrate responsibly.

COVID is a serious virus. People are dying. Each of us has a responsibility to keep each other safe. By being casual about the virus, we are prolonging lockdowns and other restrictions. Be kind and demonstrate empathy and compassion during these tough times. It has been a year since this all began, but I believe we can and will get through this together. Best of all, we will have celebrations when teams emerge with major victories. Stay safe!

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