Georgia reacts to social media criticism of student seating in Sanford Stadium
It’s one thing to not wear a face covering or socially distance when in private, but it’s a different story when on national television. The latter was a big problem for Bulldogs fans.
Following images of the Georgia-Auburn game on ESPN and a rash of criticism on social media about how full Sanford Stadium locked and a lack of regard for Covid-19 safety protocols, Georgia senior deputy athletic director Josh Brooks addressed the issue saying that more staffing and help with enforcement, along with funneling students to additional student areas would help alleviate some of the problems for this week’s game against Tennessee.
“The biggest takeaway from me is we had 99% compliance from all of our fans. It’s just refining that 1%,” Brooks said according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. “The majority of our students were great. They had great attitudes, they were respectful, they were compliant, but it just takes a few who without having malicious intent just filtered down or get into areas where they’re not supposed to sit, especially when the cameras are down there and they’re trying to get a great camera crowd shot.”
Student seating was originally designed to consist of pods of four, marked off with a red vinyl wrap on top of the aluminum bleacher, but the images on ESPN clearly showed that students did not abide by the restrictions.
Good to see all the Georgia fans brought their masks 🤦♂️ pic.twitter.com/85OhVbN1TY
— Billy Heyen (@BillyHeyen) October 3, 2020
— Kyle Serba (@KyleSerba) October 3, 2020
“We just need constant reinforcement,” Brooks said. “The other thing that makes it look worse is the students are standing the whole time, so when you’re standing the whole time you don’t get a true sense of the vertical gaps. It looks more congested than it actually is.”
— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) October 4, 2020
Sanford Stadium has a capacity of 92,476 and was filled at 22.2%. A different group of 3,000 students are permitted at each home game.
While the SEC’s fan health and safety guidelines say that “face coverings (over the nose and mouth) shall be required as a condition of all guest ingress, egress and movement throughout the stadium, as well as any time guests are unable to maintain the recommended physical distance from others who are not in their same household,” Georgia does not require fans to wear masks inside Sanford Stadium.
Despite the negative feedback from media, Brooks has been pleased by the responses from Bulldog fans and donors in attendance at the game.
“[The responses have] been overwhelmingly positive. The negative has been from what people may have been taken out of context on one shot on TV from one small group.”
Currently only Alabama, Missouri, LSU, Kentucky, Arkansas and Auburn require masks to be worn inside their stadiums.