The Phenomenon of Sports without Spectators

By Makenna Adams

Earlier this summer, my family and I tuned into a Giants vs. A’s game on the radio. Listening to the announcer, something felt off. A few seconds later, I realized what was missing: spectators. With no fans in the stands to contribute to the merry hubbub that always accompanies live sporting events, the atmosphere sounded completely off. I could hear Renel announcing the players’ names as they walked up to the plate, but no fans were present to cheer or shout along.

To me, the biggest abnormality with fans not present at sports games is that the atmosphere will be completely disturbed. Fans control the atmosphere 100%, in my opinion. However, this has not affected the outcome of games thus far. Scores of recent games have not strayed too far from scores of games in a regular season. On September 10, the Padres beat the Giants 1-6. Compared to regular seasons, this is a relatively low score, but nothing too out of the normal. This is a fascinating phenomenon to me, as I would expect players to be deeply affected by the lack of energy in stadiums. Yet, players seem unmoved. 

In some areas of the country, spectators have been encouraged to attend games. Despite the threat of Coronavirus, the Dallas Cowboys are one professional sports team that has allowed fans to purchase tickets and travel to games this season. To protect fans, the Cowboys have, fortunately, established guidelines, which include “enforcing new seating ‘pods’ for separate groups of fans,” enforcing all “spectators on site to wear masks” and “currently allowing for 50% capacity” in the stadium. However, tailgating is still permitted and fans are allowed to eat and drink without masks. As it stands, a total of eight teams in the NFL will allow a limited number of fans to attend games this season.