I was covering tailgating on Sept. 12 at the Texas Tech football game against Houston Baptist University for a story and multimedia assignment. It was not what I expected it to be.
Before I went to cover tailgating at the game, I looked at the new regulations set in place to tailgate at a Tech football game. Below are some restrictions that I had noted.
According to the updated safety measures at Jones AT&T Stadium, Tech sponsored tailgating was not permitted. Personal tailgating was permitted as long as there were no more than 10 people. All tents and tailgating groups were required to be at least 10 feet apart.
I expected to find many groups of families and friends tailgating without a mask, celebrating the Tech football season’s first game. However, there were very few groups tailgating at the game.
There were a few expectations that were met, though. As I expected, there were individuals not wearing masks who were celebrating the first football game.
Nearly all of the tailgaters were immediate family members or close friends. None of them wore a mask considering the fact they were eating and drinking.
All of the regulations set in place by the updated safety measures at Jones AT&T Stadium were being followed.
My plan was to get the fan’s perspective of why they choose to tailgate amid the pandemic.
After talking to some tailgating parties with my mask on, of course, I had concluded that most of them were tailgating because it was tradition, and if the opportunity was present, they were not going to miss out on it.
In my opinion, their decision to tailgate was OK. It was safe considering the majority of tailgating parties only included immediate family. They also significantly separated from other tailgating parties.
The tailgates were no different from hanging out in a person’s backyard to watch the game. The only difference was they were close to the stadium.
If Tech allowed for fans to attend the game, small tailgating parties should continue to be permitted. Tailgating means a lot to the families who come as a tradition, and if they are willing to follow the protocols that are in place to keep them safe, they should be able to.
My concern was not for the safety of the tailgaters. They were in a safer environment than most Tech fans at the game. My concern was more for the safety of the individuals in line waiting to enter the stadium.
Although Tech has issued limited capacity, many people are upon entrance, not wearing mask-wearing and in close proximity to each other.
There is no policy enforcing fans to wear a mask while outside the stadium, but it is encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wear a mask while in close proximity to others.
I understand the circumstances that may cause an individual not the wear a mask outside to the heat while walking Jones stadium. But in order to keep everyone safe, individuals should choose to wear a mask when they are close to other individuals. Especially if they don’t live with or know the individual standing in close proximity to them.
Overall, if Tech is permitting fans to attend the game while following safety measures, tailgating should be permitted while following safety measures.