Will there be a student section at BYU football games this fall?

BYU Football is set to play its first home game of the 2020 season less than a month from now on Sept. 26 against Troy University.

The first home game of the season is typically a memorable moment for all students and fans, especially for the new freshmen getting acquainted with BYU student life.

This year, attendance at football games across the country will look a little different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teams are limiting fan attendance, and in some places prohibiting it altogether.

Duke and Boston College have both said they will begin the football season with no fans in the stands, while other schools are allowing 25 percent capacity, with social distancing and other precautions.

BYU Football has not officially announced what attendance will look like at the home opener against Troy. However, BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe has expressed optimism that BYU will be able to allow some fans into LaVell Edwards Stadium, as long as the virus situation in Utah County and Provo does not worsen.

If fans are allowed at BYU Football games, the ROC student section will be prioritized in the plans as an integral part of the audience and home-field experience.

What exactly the ROC will look like under COVID guidelines is still up in the air, as is the ticketing process. Normally, students would purchase a ROC Pass that grants entry to all BYU Division I sporting events, but with the cancellation of West Coast Conference sports, including women’s volleyball and soccer, alternative options are currently being considered.

The Smith Fieldhouse and South Field will remain empty this fall with the cancellation of WCC sports, but fans might still be allowed at LaVell Edwards Stadium for football. (Hannah Miner)

“Sports play a huge role in the student experience at BYU,” BYU Athletics Marketing Coordinator Jordan Blad said. “It’s obviously disappointing that students won’t be able to connect over (WCC) sporting events to cheer on our student-athletes. We are focusing on keeping everyone healthy and continuing to prepare for football and sports that will happen in the winter.”

The Daily Universe conducted an informal poll on Instagram, asking students for input on what attendance at football games should look like and whether students should attend.

Opinions were divided, with many saying students should not go due to the risk of catching and spreading the virus, while others argued the student section is the “heart of the school” and BYU needs the ROC in order to “hype up the team.”

Instagram user @st_ryker mentioned that it could potentially be safer to only allow students to attend games, maintaining somewhat of a “bubble” among the student body and limiting exposure from visitors coming from outside the city and state.

A sign on a table on campus reminds students to social distance, likening six feet to the length of four-and-a-half Cougar Tails, the signature treat sold at BYU Football games. (Hannah Miner)

Several students said that as long as there are social distancing and other protocols in place to lower the risk of infection, they plan on attending football games.

“Attending football games are a staple in any freshman’s college bucket list,” BYU student Jeannette Coleman said.

Another student, Alexa Merr, said that the student section is the reason (BYU) football is so good, and Tyson Sabey said he would even camp out if necessary.

Students will have to continue to do their part to maintain a low-risk environment on the BYU campus in order for fans to be allowed in the stadium at all. BYU recently addressed this in a series of Instagram stories, asking students to mask up and avoid large gatherings so there isn’t a COVID-19 outbreak as the school year begins.

The football team has created a bubble of its own, and coaches and players have repeatedly expressed their trust in the team to take the necessary precautions to maintain that low-risk environment. If the students want to have any part in the football season, they will have to do the same.

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