COVID-19 may have caused a timeout, but the game just got interesting

Players and fans give their take on the lengths at which professional and collegiate sports organizations are taking to make everyone happy

%C2%A0%C2%A0Photo+credits%3A+Kevin+C.+Cox%2FGetty+Images%2C+G+Fiume%2FGetty+Images%2C+Harry+How%2FGetty+Images

  Photo credits: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, G Fiume/Getty Images, Harry How/Getty Images

In a nation where athletics is seen as equal to religion at times, the idea of gathering as a city, state, or nation to watch a favorite sports team has been a ritual in years past. With COVID-19 stopping everything from media-coverage, to practices, to games, it has been tough on fans to sit idle and wait for some form of competition to be aired on television or even on social media. In the past few Months, baseball has restarted its season with no one in their stands but paper cut-outs of their favorite cartoon characters or actors/actresses, football has started both at a collegiate and professional level with spectator access depending on state regulations, and professional basketball has built their own “bubble” in the magic place of Disney World Orlando with no fans except for ones that appear on the courtside jumbotron thanks to Zoom. Although each fan misses the opportunity to see their favorite players or teams in person, the level of appreciation for having some form of competition aired and the lengths at which these organizations are taking to satisfy their fans, are truly and hopefully only once in a lifetime experiences. 

 

The NBA bubble began July 31st with professional basketball being the first sport to try and play since the cancelation of all sports in March. When Devon Hall, former Cape Henry basketball player and Oklahoma City point guard returned home, I was fortunate enough to speak with him about his experience. Being stuck in a hotel room for three months and getting tested every day wasn’t very fun, but getting the chance to play even with limited time was a great experience for me. Not having fans was difficult to begin with because it almost felt like we were just performing on a stage, but when the NBA decided to add artificial noise of fans screaming and yelling made games more natural.” The NBA made an environment that is as safe and healthy as possible for their players, at the expense of limiting the fan experience to only television and social media coverage. Fans have just as much of an impact on players as players have an impact on fans. Their energy in arenas can spark second winds for a team and their players and the lack thereof has definitely taken effect on the NBA’s players. “As a Laker fan, watching the playoffs has been crazy. From thinking basketball season would just come to an end after its abrupt stop, to watching teams play on almost a stage in Disney World is really something else. I hope everything returns to normal but for the time being, this is a great option. And don’t forget, Go Lakers” says Scott Clark, a Lakers fanatic and the assistant basketball coach here at Cape Henry. Coach Clark, like most sports fans, is just appreciative of the ability to even watch basketball, rather than watching the same replays of games that happened in years past over the quarantine period. 

 

The NBA isn’t the only organization that is trying to revive its respective sport. College football has started its seasons without fans and some conferences like the Big 10 and Pac 12 were planning on not even playing. Jack Camper, a defensive end for Michigan State and also my cousin, shared his thoughts on the Big 10 deciding to resume their season. I am psyched I get to play again. I was scared I would lose my year of eligibility and the fact that I would be our starting defensive end this year was really frustrating. I have had to quarantine in my dorm multiple times due to my teammates contracting COVID-19 but not having the ability to play along with being stuck in my dorm would have crushed me. I really don’t care if there aren’t any fans. I just want to be able to play the sport I love.” Some states are still prohibiting fans in stadiums but recently, the state of Florida has allowed full capacity in state venues including professional football arenas. Along with football, professional baseball has restarted its season and has recently decided to allow some capacity of fans at the World Series which will take place on October 20th.

 

The year 2020 will definitely be one to remember, or really one to forget. The year has been full of compromises in the sports world ranging from dubbing the sound of fans cheering in NBA games to placing cartoon character cutouts in the seats of empty football stadiums. Fans missed watching sports just as much as players missed playing their respective sport. One unique perspective to take away from these crazy times in the sports world is, players need fans just as much as fans need players.

  Photo credit: 1, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images / 2,G Fiume/Getty Images  /3, Harry How/Getty Images.