Athletics promises updates ahead due to Delta variant rise

Northern Star sports promises updates as events develop.

Currently+NIU+athletics+expects+fans+to+remain+in+the+stands+for+the+season+at+100%25+capacity%2C+the+rise+in+Delta+variant+cases+puts+everything+on+the+table+for+spectators.+The+Northern+Star+is+committed+to+providing+fans+updates+as+they+become+available.+

Northern Star file photo

Currently NIU athletics expects fans to remain in the stands for the season at 100% capacity, the rise in Delta variant cases puts everything on the table for spectators. The Northern Star is committed to providing fans updates as they become available.

James Krause, Sports Editor

DeKALB — If there’s anything that’s been certain about the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that nothing is for certain.

It’s a fact those who closely have followed sports for the past year and a half, like us at the Northern Star, should know all too well. The Mid-American Conference was the first FBS conference to call off their football season, and eventually, the last to bring football back in November.

As the vaccine rolled out across the US this past spring, it looked as though the pandemic would soon be in the rearview mirror, and fall sports returning with full capacity felt like a certainty. Whether the Back to School issue is in your hands or on your screen, The Star planned on running a story with athletes’ thoughts on fans returning to the stands. 

Delta variant uncertainty

As our July 30 deadline approached, the uncertainty around COVID-19 rose again with the spread of the Delta variant. On July 28, DeKalb County was among the hundreds of counties the Center for Disease Control designated as having “substantial” levels of COVID-19 transmission, thus requiring the return of indoor mask mandates to all individuals. 

At the start of July, the seven-day carrying average of COVID-19 cases in Illinois was at 297. By July 29, that average was at 1,553.

In light of the concerning spike in cases, we’ve decided to hold our article about the return to fans in the stands. In place of that, this space will be dedicated to letting you know that we’re focused on providing you with the COVID-19 updates you need as a student and fan of NIU Athletics.

Follow Star for more updates

The Northern Star can’t assume or promise that fans will be in the stands, at least not the entirety of the season. What we can promise is that we’ll dedicate time and space to providing updates when necessary on how athletic events at NIU, as well as overall, shift gears in the interest of public safety. 

Athletics’ current position

NIU Athletics has confirmed to the Northern Star that it will be providing updates on COVID-19 procedures when needed.

“As we get closer to the start of the seasons and welcoming fans back to the stands, any announcements and specific information regarding health and safety guidelines will be made public and relayed to the fans via our website (NIUHuskies.com), official social media channels, email and press releases, as well as signage in the building,” NIU Athletics said in a statement to the Northern Star on July 30.

From here, there’s a valley of time for COVID-19 to get better or worse. It’s what makes this time so difficult for everyone, journalists included. We can say we see a figurative light at the end of the tunnel all we want, but the reality is we still can’t see what’s a few feet in front of us.