With the rise of COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant and other new strains, the policies Ole Miss Athletics have implemented should be held under scrutiny. For instance, at football games fans are not required to wear masks no matter how packed the stands are. This has undoubtedly helped contribute to the COVID-19 outbreak that Ole Miss students, faculty and staff are currently struggling with. Ole Miss should not allow people to risk spreading or catching COVID-19 all because of a football game that fans could watch at home.
It is extremely irresponsible for the University of Mississippi to allow Vaught-Hemingway to be completely filled with no requirements for masks or other safety precautions. Ole Miss is a well known university that has been in the public eye for a long time; people can easily see the lack of precautions or care that UM has implemented towards the coronavirus disease, especially when it is aired on television for all to see. Not only does it ruin the university’s public image, it directly puts students in danger. Thanks to the Delta variant, people between 18 and 29 have roughly tripled their share of deaths in July and August of this year. Due to this lack of precaution against COVID-19 at football games, fans are quite literally putting their lives on the line in order to watch a sporting event.
This does not only impact fans, however. The spread of COVID-19 impacts all people on a broader scale than what most individuals think. Because hospital beds are overflowing with COVID-19 patients, it is predicted that Mississippi hospitals will soon be unable to treat not just COVID-19 patients, but heart-attack and car-accident victims as well. This means that football fans are not only risking their own lives with COVID-19, but actively risking other people’s lives that have no connection to COVID-19.
The University of Mississippi does have some options to keep football games safer for the general public. For instance, some suggest that fans should prove they have been fully vaccinated before entering the stadium. This is not a sure fire way of preventing a COVID-19 outbreak, as the Centers for Disease Control found that fully vaccinated people can spread some strains of the virus. Instead, fans could show proof of a negative COVID-19 test a set amount of days before a game. This endeavor, however, could become costly for the university or fans and become a drain on already-dwindling resources. If the university wants to keep the community safe, the best it could do is to not allow fans into the stadium until the virus is under control.
It is silly and irresponsible for Ole Miss to allow Vaught-Hemingway to be packed with fans with little to no disregard for the pandemic, as the world still actively fights against it. Not only does it reflect poorly on the morals of the university, but it directly puts people at risk of getting sick or dying. This issue not only impacts the people attending the game, but the community as a whole. We as a community of educated individuals must call for change and take care of our fellow man.
Willow Crosby is a sophomore majoring in accounting from Tupelo.