State leaders question why Gov. Roy Cooper won’t allow families to attend sporting events

Gov. Roy Cooper at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. Photo via NC Dept. of Public Safety

RALEIGH – State Republican officials are calling for Gov. Roy Cooper to reverse course on policies that will see collegiate games this weekend played without the families of student athletes in attendance.

House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) sent a letter Thursday urging Gov. Roy Cooper to allow those families of student athletes to attend competitive sporting events in North Carolina.

Moore said families have worked hard to help students realize their dream of competing in amateur athletics and that “innovative methods of testing, tracing, and self-assessment have emerged that make family attendance at athletic events safely possible.” 

“It came to my attention that your administration does not currently plan to allow family members to attend athletic events, even if they comply with social distancing and containment guidelines,” Speaker Moore said Thursday.

“Families will gather in restaurants, breweries, and other venues to watch athletic competition in large groups, often indoors.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Cooper’s general election opponent in November, called for allowing families to attend as well.

“Gov. Cooper says it’s not safe for parents of student athletes to watch their children play in person, in stadiums with thousands of seats. If their 3W’s actually work, why can’t 300 parents sit socially distanced with masks on in a 30-60,000-seat stadium? Science or Politics?” Forest wrote on Twitter late Thursday night.

 This morning, Forest followed up, saying, Appalachian State is playing Charlotte tomorrow. No parents allowed. Next weekend, App (Appalachian State) goes to Marshall, fans will be there. Is the science different in West Virginia? Is it safer for App State parents/fans to travel 5 hours to Huntington, WV than watching in Boone?”

According to reports from Marshall University, less than 1% of virus tests given to students, faculty, and staff have come back positive.

“Amateur sports are an integral part of our traditions, and North Carolinians should not be denied the opportunity to watch their loved ones fulfill their dreams of athletic competition. On behalf of countless families who have worked hard to support the athletic careers of their students, I urge you to allow family members to safely attend athletic events in North Carolina,” Moore’s statement added.

State Sen. Joyce Krawiec, who represents Forsyth County in the General Assembly and where Wake Forest will host #1 Clemson Saturday, criticized the decision as well. 

“It simply defies logic that a few dozen moms and dads sitting in a huge, empty football stadium is some sort of imminent risk. Parents can sit in the bleachers at a little league baseball game, but they can’t watch their children play college football,” said Krawiec in a statement. “Parents dedicated years of their lives to help their children develop into Division I athletes, and now Gov. Cooper is prohibiting them from even watching their kids play.

“The nation will be watching the No. 1 football team in the country play at Wake Forest this weekend in what will be the biggest game of some of these kids’ lives. It’s unconscionable that Gov. Cooper prohibited their moms and dads from sitting in an empty stadium to watch,” said Krawiec. 

One member of the UNC Board of Governors, Alex Mitchell, said he also was disappointed with the decision. His son, Will, is a freshman at NC State.

“I am incredibly disappointed with our Governor’s decision to not allow the parents of college football players to attend their son’s game.  NC State, UNC, Wake, App St., UNCC, and ECU requested 350 tickets for players’ parents.  This was denied over Covid concerns by the governor.  I have a hard time understanding why we can’t have 350 people in an outdoor stadium with a capacity of almost 60,000, but we can have an indoor restaurant up to 50% occupied.  Will has worked hard his entire life to finally run out of the tunnel at NC State, unfortunately Drewry and I won’t be there to see it.  This will be the first football game that we will have missed in his life,” Mitchell said to North State Journal.