After an 18-month hiatus from all university sports, Concordia football fans will experience a more tame football match than ever before
Though many Concordia University sports fans are eager to attend games in person this upcoming school year, they will be subject to a number of newly imposed rules since the Stingers last played in November 2019.
With the Concordia Stingers football home opener happening on Sept. 4 against the Laval Rouge et Or, Concordia University and the athletics department are trying their best to fall in accordance with all the new regulations imposed by the Quebec government.
Long lines at the concession stand, on-site ticket purchases, large crowds, and tailgating are just a small fraction of what will be missing in this new phase of in-person attendance, as the provincial government continues to err on the side of caution for this year’s sporting events.
In addition, the Quebec government introduced vaccine passports to the public on Sept. 1, making it mandatory to present proof of vaccination before entering a public venue. This passport will be in effect come gameday, prompting all fans in attendance to show validation of double vaccination.
If ample space is available, teams must now practice on separate fields before they face off against each other. Catherine Grace, media officer for the Stingers, said that even the slightest details, such as team introductions, will be altered this year.
“Usually our team comes out of the endzone, smoke bombs go off, running into music, jumping, yelling and celebrating while going to the bench. We’re not allowed to do any of that,” Grace said.
While it isn’t encouraged for fans to yell for their teams, the roughly 800 socially distanced, masked fans will be placed two meters apart. Freshly painted, marked zones enclosing coaches will now be the new norm during games.
“Our facilities guy has to spray paint over by the bench a line that coaches aren’t allowed to move out of,” Grace said.
Concordia will begin the sports agenda by allowing just over half of the 1,400 fans the government is permitting into their stadium. Grace said that even if they’re allowed that number of attendees, they don’t want to lose control.
“We’re scaling it back the first game because we’re just afraid that it’s going to be hard to handle,” Grace said.
Stéphane Boudreau, assistant director general of the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ), said that the RSEQ only provides rules to universities that the government has imposed.
“We’re very close because of our relationship with the government,” Boudreau said. “As soon as guidelines come out, they provide an idea of how to interpret the necessary sanitary measures needed.”
It’s still too soon to tell what the guidelines will be as the school year progresses. Though much is still unsure, one thing is certain. The spike or decrease in daily COVID-19 cases will determine the outcome and regulation of in-person attendance at sports events this academic year.
“New numbers come out every day so it’s a little bit a day at a time. But things could always change,” Grace said.
Graphic by James Fay