After competing in a modified soccer season that allowed ten soccer games to be held with no spectators, I came to a conclusion: sporting events are just not the same without the roar of the crowd.
Last school year in order to spectate a game, you had two choices: sit behind a computer screen or sit behind a fence (if you were lucky enough to even be granted that permission). Now, nearly a year into the pandemic, stands are allowed to be filled again. As an athlete and as a spectator, I feel an immense amount of excitement to experience the noise again.
Last week, a familiar sound that I had forgotten about arose from the crowd of college students when a foul was decided against our women’s soccer team. I instantly felt a rush of adrenaline from the fact that college students were screaming from the stands over a call they more than likely weren’t sure of themselves. The support from the community motivated me. I was not sure what to expect from the game, which was the first home game of the school year that allowed spectators. However, the stands were filled with a loud crowd and there was no question we had a community that supported us.
I believe in the observer effect: you play better when you know you are being watched. How could you not? Everyone wants their fans to witness them score a goal, throw a touchdown, win a race and succeed overall. It was not until I played in a match during the pandemic season that I heard silence so loud and clear. The silence was mentally draining and having to stay plugged in for an entire 90-minute match was harder than ever before. There is nothing like playing in front of a crowd that so badly wants your team to win. I believe that crowds are more vital than we previously thought before COVID-19.
Pacific University plans to allow spectators into 2021-2022 sporting events with proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Fans are back screaming from the stands and as a result, athletes are back with more energy than ever before. — Emily Rutkowski