SMU and Memphis played one of the best, most exciting football games of Saturday across all of college football, with the Mustangs escaping with a three-point win on a game-winning field goal with nine seconds to play.
It was the type of excitement we’ve come to expect from two of the AAC’s most prolific offenses in recent years, but the entirety of SMU’s student section missed taking in the action live because they had been previously kicked out of the stadium by Dallas police for refusing to follow social distancing and mask protocols in the first half. SMU, like all other college football teams that are allowing limited numbers of fans, have called for fans to stay six feet apart and wear masks whenever in close contact.
The SMU student section, well, was very much ignoring those rules as was evidenced by the Dallas Morning News‘ photo of the student section jumping together, screaming, and trying to shower beer on a Memphis player.
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) October 3, 2020
The school also released a statement on the matter, noting they had reached out to public health officials after their last home game and ramped up staffing and enforcement in the student section to try and get better compliance, which clearly didn’t have the intended effect.
SMU Athletics statement on kicking the student section out of the game today: pic.twitter.com/ntRnioeywF
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) October 4, 2020
The last part of the statement offering hope that students will be allowed into the stadium for their next home game seems, well, a bit foolhardy given they tried numerous times Saturday to get them to follow protocols to no avail. This is not unique to SMU games, as every crowd shot on Saturdays delivers cringeworthy images of maskless people yelling and talking in close proximity during a pandemic that continues to to infect tens of thousands each day across the country. There aren’t really good answers to fix that so long as the goal is to get fans in the stands, because there’s simply not enough staff on hand at games to enforce wearing masks and distancing, particularly in student sections where pushback is most aggressive, particularly to the call not to congregate en masse.