Spotty compliance with mask mandates at athletic events

50-50 split on mask compliance; no concessions has helped reduce problems



Masks are handed out to people who do not have one, but he is sure some people go to events without even putting it on, said Ben Clarke, WSU Athletics Event and Facility Operations associate director.


Although COVID-19 guidelines for sporting events have been set for a while, WSU faculty members say some individuals continue to ignore them.

Shawn Ringo, Environmental Health and Safety director, said he has seen a 50-50 split in terms of people following the guidelines.

Ringo said even though there is a discrepancy regarding compliance, he has observed a lot of spacing between fans at basketball games.

Ben Clarke, WSU Athletics Event and Facilities Operations associate director, said having no concessions at games has helped reduce the number of people taking their masks off.

In the past, people would hold a drink or food in their hands without their masks, and Clarke said they would not eat or drink but would use them as an excuse.

“Now, all of a sudden, there’s no excuse not to be wearing a mask,” he said. “I think it helped us be able to enforce the university mask policy and the state policy. That was a positive.”

Clarke said he has been working with officials on campus to flag the people who are not fully vaccinated or do not meet the university policy.

It makes it easy when students show up to events because their vaccination status is tied to their Cougar Card, which students swipe to get into sporting events, he said.

Not only does someone have to swipe their card, but they also have to wear a mask. Clarke said a mask is almost like a person’s ticket to get in.

Masks are handed out to people who do not have one, but he is sure some people go to events without even putting it on, he said.

Ringo said security officers in concourses make sure people are following the guidelines.

“We’ve had to let some people not remain in the arena because they would refuse to put [masks] on,” he said.

Clarke said it is difficult to enforce mask mandates while people are in the seating areas at sporting events because WSU Athletics is struggling with a staffing shortage for security.

However, he said the security they do have in the concourse has been helpful in making sure people have their masks on.

“Out on the concourse, when people are moving around, we actually see better compliance because we’re a little more vigilant, we’re vocalizing,” he said.

Clarke said hosting teams with different COVID-19 restrictions has been challenging because some schools do not require proof of vaccination or masks, so they have to work around that.

“We just had the Arizona schools here for the men’s basketball games,” he said. “They’re less restrictive, so we had a lot of them going ‘oh, vaccine requirements? Masks?’ So we had to work through some of that.”

He said people should be on the lookout for the newest updates in COVID-19 guidelines, and he would love to get to the point where the guidelines are less strict.

“But, I think it’s in everyone’s best interest just to abide by our current policies and guidelines so everyone can have a good experience and feel safe,” Clarke said.