Block I announces changes for fall semester
August 24, 2020
On Aug. 11, the Big Ten announced all fall sports would be canceled. Hundreds of Illinois student-athletes were affected by this decision, with football, volleyball, soccer and cross country all left uncertain about their seasons this school year. One off-the-field group was also handed a big challenge without sports this fall: Block I, the official name of the student group seen at every home game in the north stands of Memorial Stadium.
Block I is a branch of Illini Pride, a student organization that supports all of the University’s varsity sports teams. Founded in 1977, Illini Pride consists of three main sections: Block I, Orange Krush, which attends men’s basketball home games at State Farm Center, and their Olympic sections, who go to volleyball games at Huff Hall and soccer at Demirjian Park. Though none of these teams will play in the fall, Block I and Illini Pride have found ways to bring the “gameday” experience to members, even if there aren’t any games to attend.
John Sullivan, junior in AHS who is in charge of coordinating Block I affairs, says the revamped Illini Pride membership will allow students to experience games if they happen in the winter and spring, while also giving members opportunities to stay active in the fall.
“Since games can’t be played with a full capacity, we are offering an Illini Pride membership this year which will be $50; with this membership you will be able to attend all events,” Sullivan said. “If sports are available in the spring, then we would implement a lottery system. If sports don’t happen or are played off-campus, we would host watch parties.”
If the rules and regulations announced Aug. 6 remain in place in the spring, this lottery system would be the only way for students to obtain tickets for basketball or football tickets if limited capacity is used for sporting events this year.
In the fall, Block I plans on having a few philanthropy events, with funds going toward COVID-19 relief or other charitable causes, along with two or three outdoor, in-person events if city guidelines permit larger gatherings during the fall semester. Virtual events, including a trivia night, are also in the works, though nothing is official yet, Sullivan says.
Students interested in becoming an Illini Pride member can ask questions during virtual Quad Days, though an informational session may be offered in the coming weeks.
Though nothing is set in stone for any in-person attendance at sporting events this year, Sullivan wants to ensure students still get to cheer on their team, even though it may be from a distance.
“We want to be able to give die-hard Illini fans the opportunity to watch games even if we can’t actually be at the event itself,” Sullivan said.
For the most up-to-date information on Illini Pride’s fall plans, visit www.illinipride.com or follow them on Twitter @IlliniPride.