Road Warrior – Sept. 2020

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Happy that OU is playing football, But the streak is potentially in jeopardy

I left my house, 42 miles from the stadium at 4:47 p.m. before the 6 p.m. kickoff of the season opener against Missouri State. In order to get to Norman, I had to travel across the entire OKC metro area. In normal times, I would have left the house at 2 p.m. and would have been sweating it if I didn’t get out by 3:30.

But these aren’t normal times. In any way.
After all, there’s no tailgating, and no real reason to show up early. The band isn’t playing on the field — they are playing videos of the band on the big screen. So where I am usually in my seat by an hour before kickoff, without fail, there’s really no reason to do that now.

So in COVID times, leaving at 4:47 p.m. got me into my seats in Norman at 5:50 p.m., well before the national anthem. It was a bit surreal — just like any non-football Saturday driving across OKC and into Norman. They didn’t convert Lindsey to a one-way street eastbound before the game, nor westbound after.

Honestly, a weekend afternoon OU basketball game has bigger traffic problems than a COVID-era football game. The only indication it was a game day was when you got to Lindsey and Asp and they had the usual security perimeter set up there.

When they told me I got seats for this season, I was originally told they were moving me into Section 30, which is the student section. But when I got my digital tickets, I was only moved up four rows and right four seats in my normal section. So now, I sit dead on the 50 instead of the 48.
I can live with that for a season.

Sitting across the aisle from the student section is a bit concerning, as the college kids are not really so good at observing social distancing, wearing their masks, etc. In fact, during the first quarter against Missouri State, about 20 sorority girls came over in a group from the student section and sat near me.

I’m not one to do such things normally absent some real problem, but COVID is a serious thing. I have lost a relative to it. So for the first time in my life, I texted the stadium issues people about it, and within three minutes, six or eight security folks came up and dispersed them. Security was also walking around admonishing people to pull their masks up, although that seemed to get a little lax as the game wore on.

And now I face an existential crisis in my streak, which currently sits at 370 games. I always thought it would be because I had an accident or ended up in the hospital or something that the streak would be broken.
Back in September 2011, I had to go to the ER on a Friday afternoon and ended up admitted to the hospital for almost a week to get IV antibiotics — but it was an open date that week. We played Florida State in Tallahassee the next Saturday, and I got out of the hospital on Wednesday and flew to Florida on Thursday. That’s as close as I have come to missing a game. I never thought I wouldn’t be able to go to a game because fans wouldn�t be allowed.

But we play at Iowa State on October 3, and Iowa State isn’t having fans yet. They originally planned to have 25,000 people at their season opener but changed their mind — they had no fans at all.

Unless they change their minds again and let fans in on Oct. 3, yours truly may not be present in person for an OU football game for the first time since Oct. 5, 1991, when the Sooners played at, ironically, Iowa State.

I have plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc. for the trip to Iowa. If they aren’t letting people into the game, I don’t know what I will do. I guess I could fly up there and sit outside the stadium and watch it on my iPad or something.

I guess that would count.

I don’t think my wife would be on board with that, though. If I can’t get into the stadium, I suspect I will be watching it on TV. The last time I watched an entire OU football game live on TV I had to drive to the cable company office to pick up the special box I had to have to get the pay per view for that Iowa State game back in 1991.

Actually, in all honesty, I don’t think it affects my streak if they aren’t letting fans into the stadium at all. I mean, what else can a guy do? If nobody can come, nobody can come. I can�t be held responsible for that, right?

Besides, at the end of the day, it’s only a football game. If I miss one, I miss one. It�s not really going to make any real difference to anybody but me. Hopefully, it doesn’t come to that. Either way, it’ll be what it�ll be. At least we are playing football.

(Editor’s Note: The column appears in the 2020 OU-Texas Preview Issue. For more information, call 405-364-4515)


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