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Onward Stats: How Do Penn State Students Feel About Football This Fall?

Last week, we asked Penn State students to share their thoughts on the possibilities heading to Beaver Stadium this fall. With a total of 655 responses received at the time of writing, it appears students of all ages were more than happy to voice their opinions.

Of the students who opted to participate, 32.2% were seniors, 22.6% juniors, 18% freshmen, 17.6% sophomores, and 9.6% came from fifth-year students.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the stats.

Would Students Feel Comfortable Attending Games?

The short answer is…yes. More than 76.2% of students said they would feel comfortable being around Beaver Stadium’s large crowds amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, some students said they’d prefer to follow safety protocols such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

Others said they’d feel better if solely Centre County residents went to games and out-of-state attendance was limited.

Additionally, 80% of students surveyed said the coronavirus pandemic would not affect the number of games they would attend. Furthermore, 79.4% of students said that despite the risks, they would still buy season tickets, although sales are currently indefinitely delayed.

A total of 14.2% of students said they’d attend anywhere between one and six games. However, 20% of students surveyed reported the number of games they’d attend would be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, while 6.4% of students said they wouldn’t attend games.

Are Students Willing To Follow Health Guidelines?

If Governor Tom Wolf’s athletic guidelines hold true this fall, college sports will look vastly different than usual. However, most Penn State students reported they’d be willing to adhere to new rules in order to play ball this fall.

However, some students disagreed on the specifics. The majority of students said they’d only wear a mask if it was required or if Penn State Athletics made the call itself. Others stated that because wearing a mask is not the law, they’d decline to wear them.

In regards to social distancing, most students responded that they would be willing to try, but they believe it would be unlikely to be safe within a full-capacity Beaver Stadium crowd.

As you could expect, most students said they’d be willing to social distance when possible on gameday but believe it’d be tough (and unlikely) to do so while inside a packed Beaver Stadium or outside in the tailgate lots.

What About The Worst-Case Scenarios?

If gamedays do happen in Happy Valley, they’re going to look different from what we’re used to.

If seat prices increased due to limited capacity (i.e. 50% capacity), students were pretty split. Approximately 52.7% of students would be willing to shell out in order to go to games, while 47.3% said that more than $200 would be too much. With student ticket sales indefinitely delayed, we’ll need to wait and see how prices potentially change.

However, if students were given the option to defer their ticket purchase to 2021 to lessen crowd size, about 62% of students said that they would consider it.

What’s more surprising is the majority of students reported they’d be willing to give up tailgating if it meant football could happen. Although they’d be missing a quintessential gameday tradition, it’s clear most students are willing to sacrifice to see their Nittany Lions take the gridiron.

What Else Can Penn State Do?

Outside of our survey questions, we asked students for input on other policies Penn State can adopt to make gamedays at Beaver Stadium a reality. Most responses stressed only students should be allowed to attend games since they only have four years to capitalize on the student experience.

Some, on the other hand, want to throw caution to the wind and let risk-takers head to games at their own volition. Others suggested taping social distancing markers onto stadium bleachers, limiting ticket sales, cutting down on away game travel, and adding mandatory temperatures checks before entering the premise.

Some folks even suggested deferring the season to the spring of 2021 to give the university more time to prepare and fight the coronavirus.

Despite the strong push for students being allowed to attend games, other responses emphasized the need for students to take each others’ health into consideration.

One response in particular highlighted some light-hearted fun shouldn’t be reason to risk students’ lives. Others added, saying attending games would be too risky if students didn’t follow guidelines and regulations.

The Bottom Line

Most students see Penn State football as a huge part of their college experience. Simply put, not being able to attend games would feel like a missing piece of the puzzle.

Although we don’t know what the 2020 college football season may look like, we’ll hopefully be back in Beaver Stadium #107KStrong before we know it.

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About the Author

Alysa Rubin

Alysa is a senior (gasp) majoring in journalism and is Onward State's visual editor. She's one of many "just outside of Philly" folks at Penn State and yes, she's an obnoxious Philly sports fan. Alysa loves her camera, hiking, Cape Cod, and eating her way through Wawa. She's also a proud mom to a cat named Comet. Follow @arubin241 on Twitter to keep up with what she sees through her lens (and for a funny retweet or two), and direct all photo requests to [email protected]

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