Notre Dame fans stormed the field as No. 4 Fighting Irish beat No. 1 Clemson at the Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana on Nov. 8, 2020.
With a double overtime and a final score of 47-40, the Fighting Irish’s win in the biggest game of the season caused thousands of college students in the audience to jump over the fence and run past security guards to form a mosh pit on the football field as they celebrated Notre Dame’s victory.
This show of intense emotions came about after Notre Dame’s strong and consecutive win streak this sports season, having won all seven games they participated in so far. Being widely regarded as one of the teams who had been a part of some of the most historic matches in college football history, it came as no surprise to see the Fighting Irish’s devoted audience expressing their happiness over their seventh consecutive win this season. This match, in particular, even became the second most-watched college football game in history despite the ongoing pandemic.
Although the university had hired more police officers and ushers for this event than usual in anticipation of something like this happening, the home team’s victory still caused a passionate reaction among the fans which went against the university’s strictly enforced social distancing guidelines as if there was no pandemic.
In order to take control of the situation, the venue’s PA announcer asked the people to evacuate the field in order to comply with COVID-19 safety precautions, but no one in the crowd listened even though the football players had already left the playing field by that time.
Even though this display of unity shows a small return towards normalcy in sporting events from before the pandemic, the prevention of further spreading the virus should be the people’s top priority. Especially now during a time when the amount of COVID-19 cases are seeing a large spike once again, people should be more cautious about how they conduct themselves in public.
While it is understandable that Fighting Irish fans felt overwhelmingly proud of their team’s victory at the moment, it was not in anyone’s best interest to ignore social distancing guidelines just to cherish a triumphant moment for the team. This act of going to the football field in order to celebrate a colossal win fueled by uninhibited happiness might have been completely acceptable a few months before, but now that the world is facing a global pandemic, doing these types of reckless activities which maximizes contact between people jeopardizes the health and safety of others, especially those who are more susceptible to COVID-19. Before doing this, one must ask themselves, “Is this small moment of solidarity enough to justify the number of fatalities that spreading the virus could cause?”
It is definitely not, and the thousands of fans who decided to go against safety measures could still have found other ways in order to show their team pride in a much safer manner.
Mark Fox, the county’s deputy health director, was not pleased with how they handled the situation, believing that the public health department should have enforced tighter guidelines, especially since they had anticipated the win from the start.
To counteract occurrences such as this from happening again in the near future, the university president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, made an announcement that students would not be allowed to graduate or register for classes during the fall semester if they did not undergo mandatory virus testing or if they left the city without turning in their results.
Although sports fans everywhere have been waiting patiently for the time when all things return to the way they once were. Congregating in crowds like these is not going to help achieve that goal any sooner.
Through adhering to practices aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, sports fans will not have to wait as long until they can cheer on their favorite teams and celebrate their hard-earned victories together as one in sold-out stadiums once again.