Ohio Northern University is in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), which is made up of ten schools. The OAC oversees and runs these ten school’s athletics. They had to have a very close watch on all athletics this year to make sure everyone is safe and COVID compliant. As the fall season of 2020 progressed, the OAC carefully enforced restrictions. No spectators were permitted to physically attend the games within these strict guidelines.
No spectators was a big hit to all athletics, especially seniors who wanted family and friends to watch their last season ever. Sophomore football player Nichal Johnson explained to me that having no spectators really changed the game for him, “I miss it. I miss the band playing, the students screaming, and my heart beating.” Johnson further elaborated saying “Having spectators was white noise, it’s like having music when you are cleaning, however without it, it is no fun. It is always a mental game but having no one in the stands forced us to mentally prepare more than we ever thought we had to.”
On March 1st the board of directors of the Ohio Athletic Conference re-evaluated their decision on spectators. The news athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, family, friends, and faculty have all been waiting for, spectators will be allowed at events starting March 8th according to the OAC’s announcement on March 5th. Johnson’s reaction to the news was “YEAH, LET’S GO!”. Everyone was ecstatic after hearing this news.
Along with spectators being allowed at events there are regulations the OAC put in place to still be COVID compliant. These regulations only allow a certain number of spectators to have admission. Each dressed athlete and coach are given two ticket spots for spectators. Athletes and coaches have to write these names down on a pass list before the game or event with the two spectators that are coming. Athletes and coaches can put anyone they want on the pass list including but not limited to students, family, and faculty. The pass list is how admission is regulated, if your name isn’t present on the pass list, you will not be given admission.
All of this is great news in so many aspects, as it signifies a beginning to the end of the pandemic. Senior football player Jarrett Sitton expressed “Letting people into games was the first step to many, we are all trying to keep taking steps to hopefully be at full capacity in the fall.” Also showing how impactful this news of spectators being allowed Sitton shared, “It is my senior year, so I was excited for my family to come and watch me, for them to see all the work and dedication I have put in, for them to see my passion. My family witnessing me succeed is practically a thank you back to them for all the time, effort, and money they have also put in me for me to be here where I am.”