Playing football in the Spring, frequent COVID-19 testing early in the morning and no band performances during halftime of football games just scratched the surface of what it was like for GSU running back Keilon Elder and other football players to play football during a national pandemic.
The 2020 football season was moved to the Spring season which meant playing football in the cold and sharing the spotlight with many other fall sports that were pushed to the Fall along with the sports that were already suppose to be going on.
“It was something to get used to and it was way different before because usually you don’t play football in the Spring so really it was something to get use to for everybody,” Elder said. “Usually in Spring we’re doing Spring football and getting ready for the Fall. It was different weather, it was cold. Being that you didn’t have many fans or the band there, we had to come up with our own juice to keep ourselves motivated.”
Elder, a 5’10 running back from Dallas, said meeting Covid protocols disrupted athletes routines as they were required to wake up every morning at 6 a.m to go to the Assembly Center to get their temperatures checked and answer questions.
The results of positive tests meant players having to quarantine for 10 days in separate dorms on campus, and also having to miss practices and games.
“When players caught Covid it was a bit of a shock because you could be in practice with a person a couple days before then a couple days later you see they aren’t out there and you ask your coach where is he and then boom he’ll tell you the guy has COVID and has to quarantine,” Elder said. “And now you’re thinking in the back of your head ‘dang I was just around him…what if I have to quarantine?” It took a different toll being out there. Guys that weren’t really playing, they had to come and step in for the poster child players.”
For many football players like Elder and football fans, the World Famed Tiger Marching Band’s presence plays a significant role in the game day vibes, especially being at a Historically Black College. For Elder, the band was motivation, hype and music to celebrate to after scoring a touchdown.
Elder said that coaches still did what they could to keep the players and staff motivated.
“Usually when we score we hear the band play the fight song but in the Spring, you have to score a touchdown and give the ball back to the ref and get ready for the next play,” Elder said.
The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) deemed out band performances during halftime time and at away games for the 2020 season because of the nationwide pandemic. But now since the first time since 2019, bands are able to perform on the field.