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Empty Stands, Silent Stadiums: Discovering The Importance of Fans

How will COVID-19 affect football as we know it?

With its extensive effects and impact on the sports world, COVID-19 has caused athletes to stop in their tracks for a minute…it seems pointless to prepare for a season that may not happen.

Upon further investigation, it seems that the football season will continue but without the possibility of fans. That leads to the question, does having fans present make or break the game?

What is the game without the fans?

This is the question that people may find themselves asking as they are preparing for this upcoming football season. It is hard to imagine the football experience without fans in the stands to cheer on the athletes. The sounds of excited people cheering when a play was made, the angry howls coming from frustrated fans during an interception. Without these sounds reverberating from the bleachers and cheering on the athletes, it is hard to imagine a football season without them. 

Fans and football supporters are the essence of a game. Though it seems like a given, having fans there to support the players means more than we might think. It could be compared to a concert without fans, a festival without people… Does one need the other to survive?

It is apparent that fans are the life and atmosphere during a football game. Athletes feed off the energy from the crowd which creates a symbiotic relationship between the players and the spectators. This energy motivates the athletes and seems crucial to the survival of the game.

When on the topic of fans, there are clear differences in loyal fans versus bandwagon fans. The fans that are there to support the players and stick it out with the team give the players the encouragement they need to move forward. 

Without fans where would the athletes truly be without their supporters? 

Just 6 months ago, it might have seemed absurd to imagine sports continuing without bystanders or fans. 

Ayden Eberhardt, wide receiver for the NCAA Wyoming college football team, says that fans make or break the spirit of the game.

“Fans mean the world,” said Eberhardt. “They’re a big reason as to why we all play.”

Eberhardt went on to say that without fans and bystanders, the energy of the game might not be there, and football would not be the same without them.

It is intriguing to see how much of an impact that the support from fans has on athletes and the game. Do players need the vocal and physical support at their games from fans in order to be successful?

“I can’t imagine a football season without fans,” said Joe Germinario, former Division I quarterback for Ithaca college.

Before Ithaca, Germinario played football at DIII colleges, therefore had different experiences with the number of fans at the game and the level of impact they brought. He was able to see first hand how much fans contribute to the spirit of the game. 

“Without having your family and friends to support, it would almost mean less in a way because you want them there, they are coming to see and support you,” said Germinario. “Not having them there would take a lot away from the game. For me, I know that.”

Without the encouragement and energy from fans, what does this mean to football players with their upcoming season?

“It just means so much more having everyone there. That’s what makes it great, and without them [fans] where are you as a team?” said Germinario.

Though the game spirit and atmosphere will be extremely different from what the athletes have experienced in the past, the game could still move forward.

Perhaps there will be ways for fans to show their support without physically being at the game to cheer the athletes on. The need for team spirit could prompt someone to come up with a creative solution. It’s possible someone could come up with a system to live stream the sounds of people watching the game from home so the athletes can hear the cheers from their supporters.

Though this might not work, it is important to not neglect the fans, but include them in the factoring of what the football season is going to look like in the fall. Fans are the reason why athletes feel the motivation to continue when things get tough. Supporters are there at their darkest times to remind them of why they continue to work tirelessly toward their goals. They are there to remind them that what they are doing is all worth it. 

To bring a smile to a child’s face, to inspire a young fan to follow their dreams. To give someone something to cheer about, and to believe in….this is what football is about. 

Without fans and supporters what would football be?

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