Fans are welcomed back to OSU sporting venues at full capacity this fall

Fans+cheering+on+the+Oregon+State+Beavers+as+they+face+off+against+the+Hawaii+Rainbow+Warriors+on+Sept.+11.+This+was+the+first+time+fans+were+allowed+back+inside+Reser+Stadium+since+November+2019%2C+when+the+Beavers+defeated+the+Arizona+State+Sun+Devils%2C+35-34.+

Ashton Bisner, Photographer

Fans cheering on the Oregon State Beavers as they face off against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Sept. 11. This was the first time fans were allowed back inside Reser Stadium since November 2019, when the Beavers defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils, 35-34.

Thomas Salgado De Almedia Leme , Sports Contributor

Oregon State University has welcomed students back for the 2021-22 academic year, both in the classroom, and into sporting venues, such as Reser Stadium and Gill Coliseum.

While fans will now have the opportunity to attend OSU sporting events, because the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging on, there will be some restrictions.

“Upon entering the stadium, guests will be required to show proof of vaccination either by their physical vaccine card or a photo of their vaccine card,” said Shawn Schoeffler, assistant director for Athletic Communications at OSU said via email. “If they are not vaccinated, they will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test—PCR or antigen—within three days of the event. Lastly, they will also be able to show proof of a positive test as long as the event is at least 14 days after the positive test and no more than 90 days.”

Additionally, masks will be required as long as the state mask mandate is in effect. Social distancing will be enforced in concession lines, entry lines and other public spaces, but not in the stands themselves. This will apply to all of OSU’s sports venues.

This is big news for OSU fans, who have not been able to watch their Beavers compete in person since March 2020.

But now, for the 2020-21 athletics season, there are no limits on attendance and most students are back in Corvallis, returning to in-person classes again.

While some fans are excited to be back on the stands cheering on their Beavers, others are concerned about the safety risk involved in all this due to the COVID-19 pandemic still prevalent in society.

OSU junior Jordan Peterson is excited to get back into the action and attend games.

“It was really disappointing, I don’t have access to the games online so I felt completely disconnected from the teams and the sense of school pride that goes along with attending games,” Peterson said over direct messaging. “I think anyone who would regularly go to sporting events pre-COVID-19 shares this pent-up eagerness to get back into the stands and cheer on our athletes.”

Other students and fans are more hesitant to attend games because they think things are still not safe enough and they don’t believe sports are worth the risk.

“We know that current variants, Delta specifically, are highly infectious and transmissible even by vaccinated people,” senior David

Jarussi said over direct messaging. “Given this, it is probable that a non-zero number of people in attendance will contract and/or spread COVID-19. Assuming everyone in attendance is vaccinated, then the risk of serious complications among attendees is relatively low, but not zero.”

Many students are still looking forward to go back to games despite the risk, such as OSU fourth-year student Payton Ford.

“It was definitely a bummer not being able to go to sporting events last year even though it was definitely the right decision,” Ford said over direct messaging. “I am [at] high risk for COVID-19, but because of the vaccine and mask mandates, combined with being out- doors, I feel it’s pretty safe going to games. It also helps that Benton County is still relatively safe COVID-19-wise.”

Jarussi, however, is someone that thinks the risk is not worth it, no matter how small the potential consequences of even just one infection in a game are, which he believes is likely due to the protocols in place that could possibly falter.

“It is entirely likely someone truly innocent will die or suffer permanent health complications because of these events,” Jarussi said via direct messaging. “I find it unjustifiable to risk being the proximate cause of another human being’s death or injury for the sake of watching a game.”

Both Peterson and Ford made it clear that despite how much they cherish being able to go to games, they only do so because they think it is currently safe. If things worsen or protocols change, they would not feel the same way.

“I do feel safe going to games because the likelihood of any transmission occurring between masked, fully vaccinated people is very low,” Peterson said. “If proof of vaccination was not required, I don’t think I would attend very many games.”

“I think for me the two things [that would make me reconsider attending games] would be either an outbreak of some kind at OSU, or possibly a lifting of the mask mandate depending on how many cases there were in the OSU community at that time,” Ford said.

Fans such as OSU senior Annalena Hukari understand the effect fan support has on athletes and want to continue providing that support, however they aren’t as confident regarding returning fans’ safety.

“The Corvallis community has done an overall good job in curbing COVID-19 and the Delta variant as best as possible,” said Hukari over email. “The vaccine rate is high and masking seems to be a pretty common sight. All of this has been because of following best practices and having limitations.

Allowing an influx of people at this time, as certain communities are being hit hard again, shows a lack of judgement and concern for the physical health of our community at large. Especially the most vulnerable community members, many of whom love to support the Beavers.”

Jarussi agreed with Hukari in that it is better to have an overabundance of caution until things truly settle down, instead of risking a premature return to normal.

“There would have to be a prolonged period of time with no new variants and a well-defined set of safeguards that are proven to prevent large-scale public events from becoming superspreading events,” said Jarussi. “Anything less than that would be imposing a very real risk of death or injury on some number of people in my community, and I personally cannot abide such a thing.”

Hukari, who is still considering attend- ing soccer games because their low turnout makes her feel safer, thinks that perhaps a compromise where only students themselves could attend games would be safer while still maintaining the social benefits of sports for students.

“[Sporting events] are such a joy, but they become less so if it negatively impacts the physical and mental health of the players, the school and the greater community by the introduction of sports tourists from outside of the area who may not fully respect the safety precautions that have kept this town’s COVID- 19 cases at bay.”

Despite differing opinions on the matter, the fact is that games will be open to the OSU community at full capacity, and it is up to the individual on whether or not they decide to attend those sporting events.