A college football season that was played amid a global pandemic finally came to an end on Monday night with Alabama’s decisive 52-24 win over Ohio State in the national championship game. While there’s nothing abnormal about the Crimson Tide ending the year as champions, this season was compromised by Covid-19 from the very start.
Players and coaches tested positive for the virus in droves, and games were postponed and then cancelled throughout the year. The Big Ten even had to change the rules mid-season to allow Ohio State to make the College Football Playoff because the specter of the virus had scraped so many of the program’s games, including one against their forever rival Michigan. Now it can be noted that the threat of the Covid was ever present in college football from the season’s opening kickoff to its final celebration.
As Alabama hoisted the title trophy in Florida’s Hard Rock Stadium — with only about 15K fans inside, rather than the 65K it typically holds — the streets of Tuscaloosa were flooded by partying fans. Most of the fans in the streets weren’t wearing masks. It’s a horrifying scene as deaths from the virus continue to spike around the country.
Before the game, the university asked fans to ‘Roll Tide Responsibly.’ That meant wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, and social distancing. As you can tell from the video, all three of those protocols were broken.
Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox also urged fans to stay home. “There’ll be a time and place to celebrate, but this is not the time,” Maddox said. Maddox also decided against implementing a curfew or taking any executive action to quell crowds and fight the spread of the virus.
The bars around town were also packed in the hours before the game.
Hospitals in Tuscaloosa were already “stretched” after treating at least 165 inpatients for five straight days, according to Maddox. It’s unquestionably selfish behavior from fans who decided to risk their own health and the health of others to celebrate the Tide’s title.
It was hard to ever feel good about this college football season as the pandemic raged on and the virus claimed lives around the country. The mask-less championship celebration from Alabama fans feels like a fitting end to a sad season.