Football student section reinstated in the COVID-19 school year

Photo+by+Alyssa+Green+%2721

Photo by Alyssa Green ’21

Maria Walters, Staff Writer

The football student section is slowly coming back during this COVID-19 year. Seniors were allowed to attend and support their peers at the East Grand Rapids vs. Forest Hills Central game last Friday, Oct. 9. Although underclassmen were prevented from attending the game last Friday, they have now been permitted to attend the Homecoming game in a few weeks.

“We tried to make the football game as normal as possible but it still wasn’t the same,” Sadie Kampf ‘21 said. “We kept the traditions going but it was hard to have to stay apart from your friends and not be able to interact with everyone the way we have been able to in previous years,” she said when asked if the student section is different from other years. The few seniors that could attend the game did continue the traditions of wearing themes to football games and chose the Polo theme on Friday and “[we] continued to do the chicken man chants and jokes,” Maya Picard ‘21 said.

However, there are traditions that the seniors are not able to continue due to the lack of underclassmen and the amount of students in the student section. “I miss painting and putting glitter on the underclass man,” Picard said. “We can’t really do that much because it’s hard to find a place to do the tailgate due to COVID-19,” she said when asked what she misses the most about football games this year. 

The lack of underclassmen for the seniors to get to know and share their experiences with has made some seniors sorrowful about their senior year. “The underclassmen is what I miss the most. Getting to make friendships and know people better in the stands is what brings your school really close,” Jane Bergenzer ‘21 said. 

In relations to the safety and containment of COVID-19 in the student section, students have done an amazing job with keeping their distance, and still continuing the fun. “I feel 100% safe,” Picard said. “Everyone is following the COVID-19 guidelines and there was nothing that went wrong or no point throughout the game where I didnt feel safe,” she said in response to being asked if she felt unsafe with the amount of people in the stands during the game. The students continue to “remain six feet apart and wear masks at all times,” Bergenzer said, in order to contain the virus so it won’t spread. 

Some students feel that there is a sort of unfairness in student sections in relation to other sports being prohibited from allowing students to come. “It’s really not fair that we are allowed a student section for soccer and football but not other sports, when other sports deserve the same recognition that these two sports already get no matter what,” Sarah Whiteside ‘21 said. Whiteside believes that the situation feels almost “unjust because we are going to school anyways and are already close to each other, so not letting us go to all sporting events makes no sense,” she said. 

Along with Whiteside, students such as Kampf also believe that sports such as swimming and diving deserve to have spectators like football and soccer. “I wish there was something to figure out with the other sports like swimming for instance because they want people cheering for them too and they want people to watch but it’s something that hasn’t been able to happen yet due to it being in an inside environment,” Kampf said. 

Although the student section is not open to all grade levels yet, “having the seniors in the stands has made it so the football players can hear us even just a little bit, and has helped to normalize everything going on with COVID-19 this year,” Kamf said. Upcoming football games will now allow for 500 East Grand Rapids spectators to come and watch the next few games of the playoffs which will help to support the football players during their future competitions.