Sports miss their fans

No fans leave empty bleachers.

Photo courtesy Instagram @bprepfootball

No fans leave empty bleachers.

Maren Jones

As sports resumed and athletes took the field, one aspect of normal athletics was missing: fans. Until late February, all Season 1 athletic attendance was limited to rostered athletes and coaching personnel. Later in the season it was announced that limited home-team spectators would be permitted for girls soccer and volleyball, but football would still remain streaming only. Some athletes expressed their feelings on limited fans due to the current circumstances.

Junior football player Max Walker said, “Fans mean so much to us as players because of the energy that they bring, and it’s a little more motivation to play to the best of our abilities. It definitely hurt not having them the first couple weeks of the football season, and we definitely missed them. It helped our team come together having no fans, but we also would’ve loved to have them in attendance.”

Senior volleyball player Ally Downing explained, “Part of the fun of volleyball is making a good play and hearing your teammates and the crowd start cheering for you. It gets everyone excited and everyone wants to do well. Having your friends and classmates there makes the experience more energetic. This year with no crowd left a lot of silence that needed to be filled. You had to learn how to motivate yourself in a different way. On the bright side it allowed for less distractions and nervousness, however the excitement brought by the crowd could not be replaced by anything else.”

Senior soccer player Delaney Rhettko said, “Not having spectators in the stands was strange, but did have its pros and cons. Some of the pros were less voices to tune out and less eyes that watched when mistakes were made. Positive reassurance that normally comes from the crowd to push a team to keep working forwards was missing because, when something went our way there was no one but a few teammates cheering. Another con that came with this was that as a senior, who is not playing in college, this was the last chance for some people to see me play. It has been very unfortunate that my close friends who never got to see me play will never get the chance. It was also very strange on Senior night to have the stands barely half full when normally they are packed and cheering. The final con I am going to list is that after the post game talk we all got into our cars and went our separate ways. Normally we are able to talk with friends and relive the moments of the game but, now when the game is done it is done. It is clear that the cons heavily outweighed the pros since the crowd is a very large part of sports. Not having them there made it feel like an aspect of the game was missing.”

Junior cross country runner Matthew Hillyer said, “At cross country meets there are not normally many spectators, even without COVID. Although this season’s crowds weren’t drastically different, the course felt more empty. Especially at the finish line, typically there are many fans cheering, however this year it was just the runners and a few spectators. The lack of spectators came with pros and cons. I was able to focus more mentally, which helped me improve my race times and with limited spectators I valued each supporter more. The downside of this was that there was no outside motivation. It was entirely up to each individual runner to motivate themselves at the end of a long race.”

Junior golfer Conner Conley said, “For me there wasn’t much of a change without spectators. In a normal season we get a few fans, but most of the time it is just the golf team out on the course. Although I wish we had more spectators during non-COVID times, I did feel lucky that our season went pretty much unchanged.”

Junior cheerleader Sophia Ehret said, “As a cheerleader during football season, my job is to cheer for our team and get the crowd cheering for our team. When I found out that we could still go to football games but there wouldn’t be any spectators, I felt my role became a little pointless. What we can do (during COVID) is already so limited, we can’t stunt which is a huge part of cheer, which means we’re down to just yelling out cheers, and now there wouldn’t even be any fans to call back to us. When I cheered at my first football game of the season though, I understood why it still mattered we were there. The stands without yelling students were eerie, I missed the screaming when we were on defense, and the whoops at a kickoff. We were now the only people cheering for them, and I think it mattered now more than ever that we were there to show support.”

No fans leave empty bleachers. (Photo courtesy Instagram @bprepfootball)