By Seamus Geoghegan
Many describe the COVID-19 era of sports and competition as different than any other; With the fans at home, games were never the same.
Sport simply isn’t the same without the crowd. With how much spectators can change a game, playing behind doors is a whole different event for sports teams and coaches, and provides a whole new set of challenges that need to be overcome.
Protocols in Place
This season, City College has reopened the doors to spectators at its athletic events with the caveat that fans must present identification and vaccination at the entrance.
“People are already coming back because people miss being at these events,” City College alumni Fran Smith said, “and the camaraderie and just the whole vibe, you know, I missed it.”
Spectators aren’t the only ones to have missed the experience only available at a sports event. Players and coaches have been just as happy to see their fans back at games.
Women’s soccer head coach Jeff Wilson has enjoyed having fans back at his team’s events.
“Just being on the field and inclusion of fans has been pretty good,” Wilson said. “ Just knowing that they’re there to support the athletes I think is a motivating factor in it.”
With the climate at venues being so different than it was before, players’ performances may have been impacted by the distinct lack of supporters.
“I think anybody who’s involved in athletics definitely wants support,” Wilson said. “And when there is support, or you know even opposing fans, I think it just brings more atmosphere.”
That different atmosphere that only a crowd can create is often key to players and teams, including to Junior Pedemonte, a midfielder on the men’s soccer team.
Scouts Work Remotely
“I think [having fans at games] definitely does work to our advantage sometimes,” Pedemonte said. “You know, if we’re not performing that well. And just getting a boost from the fans is pretty helpful, just to get us motivated again.”
Doors being closed at events doesn’t just impact individual games but whole scouting efforts for future City College teams.
Not being able to attend matches himself, Wilson relied on clips sent in by players or other coaches to put together his team.
“When you rely on film, [it] can be edited in a way that doesn’t necessarily show all the details,” Wilson said. “I tend to watch somebody that I’m interested in at least three times [in person] because you’re picking up different things…you also want to see them live and their interaction with their teammates.”
Despite the many benefits of having spectators at a game, it still needs to be done safely. And at City College events, Smith thinks the college is doing exactly that.
“I think [fan safety] is being taken seriously and the school sticking to the mandates,” Smith said. “People were very cooperative in being respectful to whatever was asked of them to do.”
It’s good to see sports events coming back for spectators to attend in person. With safety being taken seriously, players can be supported and everybody wins.