OPINION: Sporting events are better with fans

Zak Everett, Reporter

Since COVID affected the world in March of 2020, the sports world has changed tremendously. There was a four month gap between the start of COVID in March 2020, and the return of sports later in July. Basketball and hockey went the rest of their seasons in a bubble where only athletes, staff and family were allowed in the arenas. Baseball had the entire regular season without anyone in the crowd, but had “11,500 fans” at The World Series, according to Bleacherreport.com. 

At the time that was the biggest sports crowd held in America since COVID. Later when College football and NFL football returned in August, the crowd was determined state by state. Schools in the SEC such as; Alabama, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and South Carolina all had north of 20,000 fans. NFL attendance was also determined state by state, but many NFL stadiums would go back and forth on letting fans in or not due to rise in covid cases.

That leads us to where we are today, the recent controversy with the Texas Rangers. On Monday, April 6, the Texas Rangers had a sellout crowd “listed as 38,232 in the 40,518-capacity stadium” according to the Washington Post. Then last Saturday, according to Tuscaloosanews.com, “The Alabama spring football game, at limited capacity, had 47,218.This is the highest at any U.S. sporting event since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Then just this week, Michigan State University announced 6,000 people will be allowed at the spring football game, which is the most fans allowed in a college game in Michigan since COVID. 

With the recent influx of fans allowed at stadiums, it has become a new heated debate. Whether people agree or disagree with sporting events having full crowds again, the atmosphere of the games are better, and it brings a sense of normalcy back. The players enjoy having  a crowd, and so do the viewers on television. There should be precautions in place to make sure there is not a rise in COVID cases. There is definitely a right way to do it: you can lower attendance more, or you can rearrange the seating so nobody sits too close to each other. Just like there is a way to keep the rise in covid cases low at sporting events there is definitely a way to have more fans in attendance. Fans in attendance, brings an energy that you can’t replicate, it creates an environment for the home team, and makes the away team dread playing there. A few weeks ago in the “Final Four” game between Gonzaga and UCLA, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs hit a half court shot buzzer beater to send Gonzaga for the “National Championship Game” in front of cardboard boxes. As great as that moment was, it lacked the noise, and it lacked that sports experience. Imagine how much better it would be if there was a real audience at that game.  

I want to be clear, this is not a selfish claim. If COVID cases rise exponentially, then go back to no fans in attendance or go to a very limited number of fans. But as we see, sports around the world are adding more fans, and recently there has yet to be a spike in COVID cases due to those events. As the summer gets closer and hopefully the COVID cases drop, the sporting world could use more fans.