The Missouri State Bears and Oklahoma Sooners kicked off the 2020 college football season on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Saturday’s game signified a new beginning for both teams. Former Louisville Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino debuted as the Bears head coach last night. It was also the debut of the Sooners’ new starting quarterback, Spencer Rattler. The Bears lost 48-0.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes had to be made to the season opener. For Missouri State, this was the first sporting event since the initial shutdown back in March. While organizing the game, it was decided that it would be televised pay-per-view only for a price of $55. Being an away game, MSU chose to hold a watch party for its fans at JQH Arena.

“Since the game will be broadcasted on PPV, we wanted to provide our fans with an opportunity to see the game free of charge,” said MSU’s Director of Athletics Development Callie Carroll before the game. 

Doors opened at 5:30 PM Saturday at JQH arena. The arena could only be filled up to 35% of its capacity as social distancing practices were enforced.

Sanitizing stations were all throughout JQH. While all of the food vendors were closed, there were two food lines on the court area of the arena. Approximately 80-100 fans sat in excitement to watch the new incarnation of the Bears as certain sections of the rows were closed.

Some fans were accepting of this alternative viewing of MSU football, while others disagreed with the  watch party dynamic and the game being televised PPV only. 

“In-person games are definitely a lot better,” said digital film major Jeremiah Hinds. “It’s kind of bad for people like me that don’t wanna pay for that. I imagine a lot of people didn’t want to pay that, at least not from Missouri State.”

As a result of playing Oklahoma Saturday, MSU received a guaranteed $600,000 payment for its athletics budget.

While MSU hasn’t announced its plans for future away games, this watch party event was made to see how things could possibly go for other sporting events.

“We hope to gradually add more events for our fans as it’s safe to do so,” Carroll said. “All events will adhere to the Greene County Health Department’s guidelines.”