The First Full Capacity Sports Event
Since the Coronavirus started, many different industries have had to adapt to the new norm. Sports, in particular, have taken a substantial hit from COVID, being completely canceled at the peak of the virus. Since then, major league sports have returned and we have witnessed successful seasons in leagues such as the NBA and NFL.
However, there has been one key factor that has been missing from stadiums across the world during the pandemic: the fans. Fans bring excitement, exhilaration, and enthusiasm to the games with their cheering and die-hard support for teams and players. Many teams have implemented fake crowd noises into the games, but they are just not the same as the intense roars coming from the thousands and thousands of fans before the pandemic.
“I ain’t playing, I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing.” - Lebron James
Dalvin Cook from the Minnesota Vikings when talking about playing without fans said, “It definitely felt a little off...You have to bring your own energy. You have to bring your own juice.” When Los Angeles Lakers star Lebron James was asked what he would do if there were no fans, he responded, “I ain’t playing, I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing.”
Now as more covid vaccinations are being administered and schools are fully opening, in-person attendance for fans has begun to grow. On April 5th, 2021, the Texas Rangers sold over 38,000 tickets to their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, making it one of the first full-capacity sporting events in a year. They are the only team in the MLB allowing full capacity seating at their stadium due to Texas governor Greg Abbott removing the mask restrictions. The Rangers website stated that masks were required while attending the game, but many people who attended were pictured without masks. When speaking about his thoughts on the game, Rangers’ player Isiah Kiner-Falefa said “It felt like it was my debut all over again. It was a good feeling to just have the crowd there cheering us on,”
“Well, that’s a decision they made. I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr. Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.” - President Biden
With this big of an event however, there were many concerns about safety. Joe Biden stated, “Well, that’s a decision they made. I think it’s a mistake. They should listen to Dr. Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.” Erin Carlson, the director of graduate public health and programs at the University of Texas at Arlington said “It is not a game unless we are eating and drinking at that game, so to put a mask requirement in place for a stadium is a perfectly noble intention. But the reality of it is that fans will not be wearing masks at the stadium because the stadium experience involves eating and drinking throughout the game. So we’ll be unmasked and seated with inches of distance between us and the next person, while we are yelling and singing. That’s a pretty high-risk activity, I would say.”
Many medical experts have stated that the protocols are not strict enough and the Texas Medical Association has labeled going to a sports event among the riskiest activities during the pandemic. The CDC says people who are attending a game should stay 6 feet away and wear masks at all times; however, at full capacity, these rules are almost impossible to follow. There are many concerns that such events will become superspreaders.
Although it looks as if we are on the path to returning to normal life, we must still tread very carefully. The safety of the people should always be prioritized, and big events such as the Rangers game may not be the best idea in our current situation. It may be difficult, but we have to be patient on our comeback from COVID. We are definitely on the right path, with some experts saying the current vaccines appear to be effective enough to end the pandemic. Hopefully, with the new advancements, we will soon be able to return to our normal lives.