IWU Athletics Reintroduces Spectator Guidelines

Emily Thompson

As the school year begins and sports start back up on campus, IWU Athletics has announced the newest regulations to be implemented at sporting events and practices on campus. Photo: Illinois Wesleyan Athletics

After almost a year of restrictions surrounding spectating and participating in athletics, players were hoping for some semblance of an average season. Despite that, recent COVID-19 spikes in Bloomington and on campus have caused Illinois Wesleyan to reimplement their safety rules at the Shirk Center and Tucci Stadium. 


For all indoor sporting events, audience members and athletes are required to wear approved masks in restrooms, locker rooms, press boxes, benches, and spectator booths regardless of vaccination status. In an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from surrounding areas to campus, home game capacities have also been lowered and the approved number is subject to change “based on community transmission levels” (IWU Athletics). Both the indoor mask mandate and lowered capacity are being applied to varsity, JV and intramural events, as well as scrimmages and practices. 


Social distancing is also being enforced at both indoor and outdoor events, maintaining a six-foot distance between spectator parties and a fifteen-foot distance between spectators and all athletes, coaches, referees and other officials at all times during events. Spectators, family and friends of athletes must wait until after all contests have finished before interacting with athletes. Tailgating before, during, and after games is also subject to change, being prohibited at this week’s games on September 1 and a decision regarding those on September 4 yet to come.


One small change from last year’s policies is the stance on eating and drinking during events. The Concession booths at all indoor and outdoor games will remain open, so long as those consuming food remain socially distanced for the duration of their meal. For contests inside the Shirk Center, food is limited to the balcony, upper level of the arena, and seating area near Concessions in order to maintain a six-foot distance. 


In a bold move to enforce the seriousness of these new protocols, any individual who refuses to follow the rules set in place by Illinois Wesleyan’s athletic department will be removed from the premises and barred from all CCIW events for the remainder of the academic year. 


The IWU Athletic Department told students and family that “[they] truly value the traditions surrounding the support of [their] student-athletes and athletic programs, however need to remain vigilant and prioritize the health and safety of [the] campus community during this time.” 


As new statistics are released regarding infection and vaccination numbers in McLean County and right here at Illinois Wesleyan, we can most likely expect to see some changes in these policies.