Tate Reeves: No College Football With 100-percent Fan Capacity. What Will Be Allowed?

Nate Gabler

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs were very blunt on Monday talking to media – college football will not be happening with many fans in the stands. At least not in this state.

It's a conversation that's ever evolving. Will football even be played? If it is, what will it look like? Well in Mississippi, we're starting to get some answers, and it's coming from the State rather than the Southeastern Conference. 

"There is something quite different between a women’s soccer match on the campus of Ole Miss or Mississippi State and a college football game on Saturday that typically would draw 75,000 people. And so what I would tell you that it is highly unlikely that it is going to be allowed," Reeves said. "We’re not going to have college football in which 100 percent capacity is allowed into our stadiums."

A recently passed state executive order has already limited stadium capacity to 25-percent of normal. However, that order expires on August 3, well before the start of the college football season. 

It seems likely that, in some extent, an extension will be made to prevent full stadiums. Now, that question is more along the lines of 'what percentage is the right number?'

"I think we will have college football," Reeves said. "It may be a delayed start, but it’s not going to be 100 percent capacity. The question is, is it 10 percent capacity or 20 percent capacity or 35 percent capacity? But those are the conversations that are being had now."

Thomas Dobbs, the Mississippi State Health Officer, had much more blunt words to say. His full, uninterrupted response can be read below:

At this specific moment in the pandemic, it’s a bad idea to put a lot of people together. We all need to buckle down and beat this thing back, and it’s easy to do. Then maybe it’ll make it a lot easier to make some of these tough decisions going into sports. I watched baseball all weekend. It’s different without fans in the stands, but I can’t imagine – I went to several Major League games last year – and if there were coronavirus in the air when we did that, as crowded as it was and as packed as everybody was together (it would have been a problem). We’ll have to be very thoughtful and methodical about how we approach it (now). Especially because I think what we’ve learned time after time is that people let their guard down. And we’ve got to be careful that if we’re going to do something – we could have come through this very nicely if we had strictly followed the rules and been very thoughtful about wearing our masks and not socializing back in the end of May, but we just didn’t have the composure to have any discipline about it. So there’s a lot of conversation that’s going to go on about it. But if y’all want football, if you want to be able to do the things we normally like to do, don’t do the things that spread COVID. It’s pure and simple. Every time we spread coronavirus around, we make it that much less likely that we’re able to do the other things in life we enjoy.

For now, Ole Miss is still slated to start the regular season on Sept. 6 against Baylor in Houston. To this point, none of the Rebels' games have been cancelled. 

One week ago, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey went on ESPN to say that the next 10 days will be critical in determining whether we have football. We're quickly nearing the end of that window. 

Of course, everything regarding football as a whole, let alone fan seating and tailgating is an ever-evolving conversation. But at least with the latter two, it seems to be trending more in the negative. 

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