Why Fans Should Be Allowed at Football Games


Dennis Racket

Friday Night Lights: North Atlanta’s spirited student section, Warrzone, is a prominent part of Dubs football culture. Many Warriors would be overjoyed to be allowed back in the stadium come game day. With proper safety precautions, what’s really holding APS back from making this decision?

With Atlanta Public Schools considering and discussing plans to return to school at the end of October, I, and probably many others, beg the question, when will students be allowed to attend football games and why aren’t we able to now? How can APS even consider sending thousands of kids back into the confined walls of a school building, sitting in desks shoulder to shoulder, walking through crowded hallways and stairwells, when they aren’t even allowing students and families to attend outdoor football games?

Many other school districts in Georgia are allowing their students and parents entry into the game with some regulations such as masks, limited capacity, and advanced purchasing of tickets. If wearing a mask for three hours is all it would take to attend football games, I would most certainly do it and  many others would as well.

APS is being extremely overcautious. With the right regulations in place, the risk of spread of illness can be decreased, making football games open to student and family attendance. When people are wearing masks while being within 6 feet of each other, the risk of transmission decreases from 90% to 1.5%. Masks work and are very effective, so with a mask mandate, going to games would be much safer. Additionally, Grady Stadium, North Atlanta’s homefield, is huge, with a capacity of 8,000. Even in prior seasons when normal circumstances existed, the stadium was never even in reach of 100% capacity. Instead of looking into ways to safely allow fans, APS shut the idea down completely, crushing the hearts of so many students, parents, and players.

Additionally, we have surpassed the two week mark since the start of the season with no outbreaks being reported in districts, more specifically in ones that have allowed fans. The APS school district has 54,946 students. The Cobb County school district, a district that is allowing fans with regulations in place, has 111,864 students, more than double that of APS. If they can have safe and fun football games for their schools, why can’t we? I don’t think it’s a lacking ability to do so while still being safe, I think it’s a matter of APS not wanting to put in the work and effort to create and carry out a plan that would allow for fans. Adding onto the student and parent frustration, the only other way to view the games is to pay to stream it.

But not only does an empty stadium upset the eager fans, it also takes a toll on the players. The North Atlanta student section creates an atmosphere like no other. The cheers and chants from fellow classmates keeps team spirit up. Even more so, player’s families can’t even watch their own kids play. For many seniors, these are their last few football games ever, and they can’t have their parents there to witness them. 

APS needs to reopen the fans at football games discussion. This time they need to look at what other districts are doing, receive input from parents and students, put more effort into creating an opportunity for normalcy amongst a Zoom school year, and allow the Dub’s spirit back into Grady Stadium.