The impact COVID-19 could have on college football traditions


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Bob Kesling has been the ‘Voice of Vols’ for 21 years, he knows what a Saturday in the South looks like.

“It’s so special because you feel it when you get up on Saturday morning and you start heading into the stadium and you see the flags, you see the people,” said Kesling.

But this year that excitement for college football is going to be different. As of right now, the SEC plans on playing, but the tradition that comes along with a typical gameday will be altered.

The ‘Vol Walk’ is just one of the many rituals that take place on Rocky Top, but with social distancing encouraged, WMNL radio host Vince Ferrara says fans won’t get to experience that interaction.

“Sometimes that’s the closest you can get to a player or coach, maybe they’ll get an autograph and for a lot of fans those are lifelong memories and now you take that away, that’s so unfortunate,” said Ferrara.

That connection between fans and players is unique and so is the pageantry in the South, however, there is a good chance everything from tailgating to the band playing will undergo change.

Kesling said, “Even if they do play football they might not let you tailgate and if you do tailgate you have to be ten feet apart. And then what about the marching band?”

As for having fans in stadiums, that’s also up in the air. The University of Tennessee has entertained the idea, but it won’t be at full capacity.

“It’s going to feel like a spring scrimmage. It’s hard for us to envision that but I think we’re all getting ready for that,” said Kesling.

And that is all fans can do. Tradition is strong in the Southeastern Conference, and while it might be rocked, it won’t crack and fans have to have that same mentality.

Kesling added, “You just have to roll with the punches, keep your fingers crossed that they will play and then adapt.”

Tennessee is set to open up the season on September 26, its opponent to be named at a later date.

It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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