Baylor Line faces changes due to COVID-19 on 50th anniversary

Although up to 2,500 students have been able to run the Line at once in the past, there will only be around 500 students running the Line at one time this semester. Lariat File Photo

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

Running the Baylor Line has been a tradition at home football games since 1970. The Line has been coed since 1994, before then, it only included men. As the 50th year of the Line begins, the prevalence of COVID-19 has changed the way this tradition will run.

As capacity at McLane Stadium is down to 25% in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, there will only be around 500 students running the Line at one time.

In past years, up to 2,500 students have been able to run the Line at once.

Matt Burchett, director of Student Activities, said that this smaller number will be beneficial to space students out effectively. The students running the Line will begin on the field rather than the tunnel and will be directed straight to their seats.

“We’ll structurally create that space by having this continual flow of activity to both minimize the amount of time that they’re in proximity to each other, and hopefully the spacing will be really strong,” Burchett said.

The Baylor Line student section will also be similar to the upperclassmen’s section. Markings will be located on the ground highlighting where students are allowed to sit and stand.

“I anticipate it being a little bit clunky as students try to find a place to stand and find a sticker and all that kind of thing,” Burchett said.

He said that Student Activities is doing everything it can to eliminate situations when students will be in close proximity.

“Normally, you kind of jam into the next best spot and hang out there for the game, but we’re going to do a lot of training and certainly a lot of communication with how to do that effectively moving into Saturday’s game,” Burchett said.

In addition, students will be given water bottles in replacement of the self-service communal water dispenser that has been available for the Line in the past.

“You could bring a water bottle into the stadium as well, if a student wanted to,” Burchett said.

Students who are selected from the ticket pool to run the Baylor Line for each game will be contacted with specific instructions about safety, social distancing, hydration and face coverings.

“Because we can pull that list by ticket pool, we thought it would be most effective to reach out to those 500 versus the collective class,” Burchett said.

Allen freshman Caroline Kemp said that she plans on entering her name into the first raffle of the football season to run the Line.

“I love football,” Kemp said. “I’m not sure if I’ll be the first one at the front of the line, but I do really enjoy football games.”

Waco freshman Isaac Sutton said the rule about 25% capacity is a little bit of a disappointment to him because he grew up in Waco imagining what it would be like to run the Line.

“Running the Line has been my biggest dream, other than going to Baylor,” Sutton said. “It kind of sucks knowing it’s happening, but I get it with COVID. It’s understandable.”

Sutton said while he is having a very different freshman experience than other classes, he is interested to see how the run itself is going to work.

“We want to make sure outbreaks don’t happen, but I don’t foresee that happening, I hope,” Sutton said. “I think Baylor is doing a good job.”

A watch party will be available for any student that did not get chosen for the week’s game in the student tailgating lot right behind the football practice stadium.

“There’s two and a half acres that’s just dedicated for student organizations, so we’re turning that into a watch party area where we’ll have a large screen TV and big speakers, and you’ll be able to see McLane in the background and hear the noises of the crowd,” Burchett said.

Burchett said Student Activities hopes to provide a dynamic game day experience to students.

“You just have to accept what you’ve got, you know, so I think honestly anything they do besides canceling it will be good,” Kemp said. “We’ll make the best of it. That sounds fun.”