Chang W. Lee / The New York Times

With Cornell staying at a yellow alert level, students adjust to a quieter Super Bowl Sunday.

February 7, 2021

From Nachos to Nothing: Super Bowl Festivities Hindered by COVID, Yellow Alert

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Once a highly-anticipated event filled with friends and good food, this year’s Super Bowl Sunday looks different around campus, as Cornell continues to stay at a yellow alert level. 

Empty lounges and silent residence halls seem to be commonplace this Sunday as Cornell’s most fervent NFL fans resign to their dorms for altered Super Bowl festivities, their championship plans stripped of their normal pomp and circumstance.

The Super Bowl usually offers a social scene that will be missed come Sunday night — even for Cornellians who aren’t avid football fans. 

“Honestly, I don’t really watch [football],” said Anthony Guzman ’24, “but I would still watch the Super Bowl just to be with friends. It was less about football and more about friends and family being together.” 

But with more than 70 new COVID-19 cases reported this past week, students’ ordinary Super Bowl plans have been –– for the most part –– hampered by the virus. 

“I guess we could still do the Zoom thing,” Guzman said, “but it’s not the same thing as, you know, a group hug or a high-five [after a touchdown].” 

Christina Wile ’24 said she felt the pandemic has made celebrations of any kind difficult, explaining that she’s supplementing her usual, sizable Super Bowl gathering with a small viewing party of a few close friends in a lounge. 

“I think it’s better to be safe than put people at risk,” she said. 

While many have changed or canceled plans in anticipation for the competition, others, it seems, are preparing to celebrate the Super Bowl as they have done in the past. 

When asked if she was concerned about the possibility of another coronavirus cluster cropping up after Sunday’s event, Wile responded with one word: “Definitely.” 

“I know of giant groups of people that are going to celebrate and that just makes me really nervous because that’s why we’re in the yellow,” Wile said. 

Other students shared Wile’s concerns. Riley Bresner ’24 said she worried students were planning on hosting gatherings off campus.

“I think within off-campus housing, there’s going to be bigger gatherings for stuff like the Super Bowl,” Bresner said.

With Cornell’s quarantine capacity hovering below 50 percent just one day before classes begin, a new outbreak could be detrimental to spring reactivation plans, according to President Martha Pollack’s Friday email

Pollack, in response to Cornell’s increasing COVID-19 cases, warned against gathering in large numbers before Super Bowl weekend, urging students to “lead by example” by following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.  

Still, other Super Bowl traditions remain undeterred despite the event’s hushed clamor — predictions of the next champion are plentiful. 

“I do think that the Kansas City Chiefs will win,” Bresner said, laughing, “shout-out Patrick Mahomes.”