Since COVID-19 restrictions have been put in place, a huge point of contention surrounding collegiate athletics is the attendance policies. The fan-culture that stems from National Collegiate Athletic Association competitions runs deep, and colleges and universities around the nation are looking for ways to include fans in athletic experiences, without contributing to the spread of the coronavirus.
The Fairfield University Athletics Department has made strides to keep their devoted supporters involved with sports as the Fairfield University men’s and women’s basketball programs resume competition. For the 2020-2021 season, the University has offered virtual “season ticket” passes, called Stags VIP Passes. These passes include perks such as a season ticket holder gift, the opportunity to interact with head coach of the women’s team, Joe Frager, and head coach of the men’s team, Jay Young, and an entry into a raffle to win a personalized Stags VIP Fan Pack. In addition, Fairfield has followed the trend that other schools have by making cardboard cutouts available for purchase to enhance the at-home fan experience.
Although these efforts are commendable, and surely appreciated by Stag Country, with the fairly recent distribution of vaccines across the nation, one might wonder what the next step is for the return of spectators at Fairfield athletic events.
The official Instagram of Fairfield University Athletics commented on one of their own posts in response to fans asking about updated attendance policies: “Attendance policies are currently being reviewed and will be announced prior to the start of the spring season.”
Although this does not provide definitive answers, it surely acknowledges that plans are underway to ensure the safe return of fans to the stands.
Deputy director of athletics Zach Dayton weighed in on the subject, echoing the same statement in an email that said, “At this time, Fairfield Athletics is evaluating attendance policies for all sports that will compete in the spring semester in collaboration with members of the University COVID-19 task force and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).”
Additionally, Dayton spoke on the current basketball season, stating that, “No fans will be allowed at home men’s and women’s basketball games for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. Additionally, it is the intent of the athletics department to broadcast as many home athletic events throughout the Spring 2021 semester as possible to provide access to fans.”
Dayton’s comments are the most up-to-date information, and now the Fairfield community must wait until the Spring 2021 season to begin on March 3, when the Fairfield University men’s lacrosse team kicks off the spring season against the Providence College Friars, for further attendance policy updates.