Mississippi State fans brace for football season without tailgating, other game day traditions
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Tailgating and SEC football.
Before 2020, it was almost unthinkable to have one without the other. But it’s a choice schools like Mississippi State have had to make amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are not allowing any tents to be set up, we are not allowing grilling on campus,” says MSU Police Chief Vance Rice. “None of the traditional tailgating activities will be allowed.”
Any other season, the Junction would have been packed with tents by Friday in anticipation of a game the next day. But not in 2020.
“Being in the Junction, seeing the game happen, I mean, they’re really down that they can’t enjoy it like that but they’re still going to do what they can,” says MSU junior Braddock Brawner.
Per the Executive Order from Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, the sea of tents outside Davis Wade Stadium and fans lining up for the Dawg Walk won’t be part of this football season. No one will be allowed on campus Saturday without a parking pass for the game and masks are required for those in attendance.
Chief Rice acknowledges that it will take time for everyone to adjust to these changes. But he is optimistic that they will be successful.
“From other universities, we’ve heard that the fans have been very good about following the guidelines that have been posted by the CDC,” he says.
Davis Wade Stadium will only be at about 25 percent capacity Saturday as Mike Leach makes his Starkville debut as head coach of the Bulldogs.
“The biggest change is if half my friend group is in the game and half my friend group is at home and wanting to make sure we’re following those COVID guidelines if we are at home and wanting to hang out together,” says MSU junior Jordan Smith.
While Chief Rice is confident the MSU student body will continue being safe, he says campus police will still be on the lookout for gatherings of 10 or more people on campus as football season continues.
“There will be some people not following the line I guess,” Brawner says. “Maybe they’ll stay away from the bigger crowd of people that are doing the right thing.”
And Chief Rice hopes that the more people do the right thing, the sooner things could get back to normal.
“The tailgating would be the area that we might see some loosening occur if the [COVID-19] numbers continue to go down,” he says.