Newhouse Insider: Going to a D1 School in a Pandemic

Mackenzie Snell

The idea of going to any sporting events in my undergrad was a foreign concept. It was an institution that prided itself on its academics and not its athletics. One of the many things I was looking forward to in my year here was being able to go to my first college football and basketball games, and, if we’re being honest, a tailgate or two. Those things haven’t happened this year, but I do still feel like I got a taste of the athletic culture that is a key part of Syracuse University.

The first time I noticed it was walking down Marshall street and checking out all the t-shirt shops. Each shop had clothing for every sport imaginable lining the walls. This continued with the media presence of teams and their coverage in the school and Syracuse at large. 

The energy in the air as Syracuse made it into March Madness was a new experience for me. When out getting groceries I would hear people asking if others had watched “the game”, and the game they were referring to was SU basketball. When they won their first and second games we could hear cheering all the way down the hill. I can only imagine the level of excitement and school spirit that would occur in a regular year

After months of waiting, we were finally allowed to see a game in the Dome! I went to a women’s lacrosse game, partially just to say I went into the Dome and partially because one of my friends plays on the team. This was a phenomenal game to watch because not only did she play most of the game, but she also scored! Sitting in the bleachers, you could imagine what it would feel like at full capacity. 

There might not be any snacks, and the crowds may be one-tenth their usual size, but being able to step foot in the newly renovated Dome for something other than COVID testing, was amazing. On this front, the past year has been unconventional and unexpected by every definition but it was very encouraging to see students willing to adhere to any covid protocols necessary to do something like this in person.

While I’m sure the energy around athletics is even more pronounced in a regular year, the emotion is still there. It has been a fascinating experience to get to go to a school where athletics permeates not just campus but the entire surrounding area. I hope after my time here I’m able to come back for a game or two in a full capacity Dome — just to be able to say I did it!