Tailgating? I Don’t Think So


Photo/Maya Cienfuegos

As tailgating shuts down for fall 2020, lots where vehicles used to park for tailgating become empty, and signs are posted around town warning of the consequences of tailgating.

Maya Cienfuegos, Staff Writer

Tailgating: the activity that dominates the State College Community during the Penn State football season. Every Saturday of the fall semester, students, parents, teachers, and many others gather around the stadium hours before kickoff to cheer on the Penn State Nittany Lions as they prepare for the game. But because of COVID-19, this year’s football season is nothing like what State College is used to.   

On Saturday, Oct. 24, the Penn State Nittany Lions played and lost against Indiana. Although every safety protocol was enforced and followed inside the Indiana stadium, members of the State College community are left to worry about their own safety as Penn State Football brings its first home game to State College on the night of Halloween. 

Suzy Scherf, Associate Professor of Psychology at Penn State, is used to the excitement of the Saturday mornings and afternoons as tailgating begins. 

“I always enjoy seeing my friends,” Scherf said, “particularly the ones who come in from out of town for the football games. We always have a great big feast so it’s sad to not be able to share the time together and to share the food. I miss that a lot.” 

While Scherf misses the tailgating traditions, she has some of her own worries for the next couple of months. 

“I am very concerned about what will happen in State College when there is a home game. I’m very concerned that there will be lots of people coming to town,” Scherf said. Although the Penn State game was played in Indiana, many people, mostly students, organized house parties around campus to watch the game, leading  Scherf to worry about what is to come this next Saturday.

“I teach seniors in a small seminar, there are only 25 students in my class, and five of them have already contracted COVID,” Scherf said. “They have talked about working so hard to be good in the way they are masking, social distancing, and following the rules on campus. They have expressed to me their concerns about what will happen when we have a home game.” 

With the anticipation surrounding October 31, students at State High are beginning to think about the safety of State College. Freshman Ian Marshall is used to tailgating on a regular basis. 

“I think the safety protocols were pretty well followed in the stadium because they only let 1000 people per team in, but here in State College it was trash,” Marshall said. “There were a bunch of kids partying.” 

Marshall, similar to Scherf, misses the regular act of tailgating every Saturday, 

“I miss getting to hang out with friends and play football. Now I just sit at home and watch football with my family,” Marshall said. 

As the very first home game for Penn State football is played for this season, there are many things to take into consideration while planning to watch the game. Consider the possibility of staying home and watching the game on T.V. Although tailgating is a well-loved tradition among all of the State College community, skipping this tradition will be one of the best things to stay safe from COVID.