Penn State football spring practice, fans

Fans cheer in the stands during the spring practice game on Saturday, April 17, 2021, at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

Just one day before this year’s adaptation of the Blue-White game, Penn State announced plans to allow seniors into a special spring football practice, scheduled for April 23.

When the university initially said freshmen would be the lone class invited to the annual open spring practice, it received significant backlash.

It only took a few short hours for a petition in favor of the senior class’ attendance at the practice to garner a couple thousand signatures.

While the announcement came all too late, it came nonetheless — and now University Park seniors who have at least one in-person class scheduled can plan on attending the final spring practice.

According to the university, eligible seniors must register for tickets in advance and observe social distancing guidelines, wear masks and stay in their assigned seats for the duration of Friday’s practice.

Assigned seating consists of three-person pods, which seniors can request ahead of time. But according to the university, not all requests will be honored.

Social distancing regulations were also allegedly imposed upon freshmen inside Beaver Stadium on Saturday, but if you scrolled through your Instagram feed at all throughout the day, you can safely assume those regulations weren’t strictly enforced.

Some may argue the university made the decision to allow freshmen into the final spring practice to keep them attending Penn State — an accusation that makes complete sense to me.

After all, the freshmen still have three years of college ahead of them, meaning Penn State would lose money should some of them decide to leave Happy Valley.

But that rationale clearly didn’t make Penn State’s decision any easier for most seniors to digest.

This is a class that attended its final football game without even knowing it.

This is a class that has lost other potential opportunities many upperclassmen were able to enjoy before them, such as studying abroad or partaking in Arts Fest.

Yes, the freshmen lost most of their senior year of high school, but they can still enjoy possibly three full football seasons in person — cheering on the team in arguably the best student section in the country.

The coronavirus pandemic robbed the seniors of enjoying their final moments inside Beaver Stadium with the mindset of moving on from college.

While the atmosphere will hardly resemble past editions of the Blue-White game, Penn State can say it partially filled the void left by not allowing fans into games during the 2020 football season.

Some elements of the decision may be flawed, but Penn State made the right decision allowing seniors to attend the final spring football practice.

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