Sports world still missing fans packing the house

By Pryce Jamison
December 9, 2020

The world of sports has been deeply impacted this year as irregular patterns has developed in the seasons of multiple sports. The Lincoln Financial Field has recently shut down fan attendance at Eagles’ games until further notice with the spike of COVID-19 cases, and this action is just another reminder to sport’s lovers that these precautions are not in the past.

“Fans are the cornerstone of an athletic event regardless of what sport you play,” sophomore lacrosse player Rob Pensabene said. “They give you that extra boost from the stands, but without them there is no home field advantage. The team with the advantage is the team that shows up wanting it more.” He went on to describe how he only lost 10 games his entire three year high school career, which all weren’t at home games. This helped further create a visual for the atmosphere both fans and athletes love, which many believe is needed to keep sporting events alive that gives athletes confidence to perform their best.

Empty Lincoln Financial Field. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

When changes to our everyday lives were seeming unprecedented early in the year, March gave us many cancellations and pauses on major sports seasons throughout the nation. After Utah Jazz stars Donovon Mitchell and Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 when the NBA season was nearing the playoffs, we saw that not even our favorite athletes were safe from catching this virus as well as the fans that crowd around each other in these large arenas. The NBA hiatus ignited a flame that resulted in other leagues such as the NHL, MLS, NCAA basketball, MLB, Tennis and Golf to put their events on hold and evaluate the next steps. All that was known that if these athletes were going to continue to compete, fans simply couldn’t be a possibility with how fast the virus was spreading.

This also helped put COVID-19 on even more of a pedestal as the nation and overall world were forced to put these usually packed and loud events aside, as other businesses and dimensions of social life started to shut down. Even the 2020 summer olympics were cancelled, so everything that was happening showed little light at the end of the tunnel, threatening everything people have come to love. 

Fans can overall boost the adrenaline of players, enhancing their strength and focus when knowing they have a crowd on their side that desires to see them win. This is also said to increase a player’s production of cortisol in the body, which is the primary stress hormone causing the muscles to tighten when players feel like they’re under pressure. When these competitors are on a big stage without this aspect of the game, it takes away that internal motivation that players are used to throughout the course of a long game.

The lakers as they celebrate their NBA championship last month despite having no fans throughout the playoffs, after the league was placed on a hiatus in March. Photo from Lakers’ Instagram.

Multiple athletes, coaches, and fans voiced their opinions when multiple leagues started to consider playing with no fans, and at first it seemed impossible in the eyes of many. When sports began to resume with no fans as the summer passed and transitioned into the fall with no fans, it just became something fans everywhere had to live with. 

“From all the Eagles’ games I’ve been to and watched, it was nearly impossible to imagine NFL games with no fans when the season was starting up weeks ago,” Philadelphia native and lifelong Eagles fan, Nyseem Porter, said. As NFL and college football have been in full swing throughout the fall, finally letting back in a limited capacity of fans after we had to see things such as virtual fans up on big screens during the NBA bubble, we felt a sense of relief that things were headed in the wrong direction. The recent considerations to stop the attendance again in certain cities is just a reminder that we still have a long way to go, and that sporting events are a huge aspect of our social life that will continue to pay the price as we find ourselves still trying to get the virus under control in America.

When talking on even high school and lower levels of sports for young athletes, they had to also pay the price as seasons have been getting canceled and cut short left and right because of the lingering presence of COVID-19, disrupting the play and atmosphere that is essential to their growing lives. Fans in even more local, small scale events can be tied into this discussion, as athletes could always feed off their friends, family, and overall community to boost a competitive edge.

It’s been a while since the world has seen an event with packed stands. Now leagues on all levels have something else to worry about instead of just the sport itself, which is managing the virus and keeping it out of locker rooms while also not holding events where fans can pass it to each other when being bunched together. This drastic change has become something we’re now accustomed to as contracting the virus has grown to become the most unwanted trend in this country, so getting back to the old atmosphere that many of us have grown to love for many years is something sports fans will continue to hope for.

Pryce Jamison

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