Student-Athletes Lose with No External Fans at RPI Games
I am not a scientist nor do I claim to be. However, I always liked science and understand a good hypothesis. August 13th, RPI's Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Institute Professor, Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy, Professor of Engineering Sciences released "plans for the upcoming year." In those plans, #15 "Institute athletic teams will participate in intercollegiate athletics for NCAA programs during the 2021-2022 academic year. External spectators will not be permitted at this time. The Institute will continue to confer with the NCAA, the ECAC, and the Liberty League regarding subsequent decisions." Long and short, no family and friends can attend RPI home games for the fall and winter sports.
RPI was ahead of the curve when it came to COVID 19 in the spring of 2020. Associate Vice President and Athletic Director Dr. Lee McElroy was one of the first college administrators in the country to drop their hockey team out of the ECAC tournament and cancel the remainder of their spring athletic season. They were spot on to follow the science. Trust me, no one understands the importance of athletics on a college campus like Dr. McElroy. That was a painful decision for him to make. In my opinion, not having families on campus for games is the very last thing McElroy could ever imagine.
However, in the August 13th press release, Dr. Jackson, Ph.D. says, "Our plan to return to campus-based operations is based on New York State guidance and our assessment of what we can and must do to enhance the safety of all members of the Rensselaer community. We are in an ongoing pandemic, and the situation could change rapidly and cause us to alter our campus-based operations, based on New York State prohibition and our own judgment about the overall public health situation affecting Rensselaer. Accordingly, our plan and associated protocols are also subject to change."
You can't be referring to New York State guidance when it comes to athletics, when less than 10 miles away, a New York State governed institution, the University at Albany, will be playing a football game at full capacity on September 11th at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. Buffalo University hosted 13,000 fans on Thursday night and Stony Brook hosted 6100. So, I am not sure which New York State Dr. Jackson, Ph.D. is referring to.
My hypothesis is that RPI is more focused on the part of the statement that reads "our own judgment about the overall public health situation." RPI's opponents will be playing in front of full capacity crowds. Therefore, RPI student-athletes will be competing in front of potentially full capacity crowds half of their season. Student-athletes will not be wearing masks while they are competing. I am just trying to get back to some type of scientific reason.
College athletics, in it's truest form, is about fairness in competition. Teams that are playing in front of opposing crowds should have the benefit of home crowds. That's fair. If the science proves that your "own judgement" measures should be taken, then please provide the information to the RPI community and especially those families paying tuition. However, in my opinion do not base it on "New York State guidance" because that hypothesis is out the window.