Games without spectators creates void for players

Saucon students reflect on how COVID-19 restrictions on spectators affect sporting events


Sage Spohn, Editor-in-Chief

With the COVID-19 pandemic placing restrictions on school sports, many are devastated by the no spectator policies. Athletes are feeling thwarted in the absence of their supporters, and many audience members are frustrated with being confined to their TV screen to view school sports. 

Due to this, sports this year have been nowhere close to normal. Many athletes are discouraged by the strange new restrictions and are lacking the passion they normally have for their beloved sports. Having no audience is also causing a lack of incentive for players. This is especially hard for the Saucon Valley high school wrestling team, which usually has a large turnout of students and locals coming to watch matches.

“It affects the performance of the team because we have no one there to cheer us on and motivate us” stated wrestling team Junior Cael Markle. The team usually has a plethora of supporters at their matches, but the pandemic is preventing audiences from attending. Most of the team feels the same effects of having no motivation, especially because they are so used to having crowds cheering for them in the stands.

Not only does it feel strange for the wrestlers to perform in the absence of their fans, but it also may be negatively affecting their abilities. The psychological aspects of sports and the interactions between athletes and an audience is being affected by the pandemic, and many athletes are experiencing a change in their game because there is no one in the stands. A crowd of fans can drastically sway the mindset of a game with their support, and without this, performance levels may be decreasing. 

The theory of social facilitation tells us that athletes will improve their overall performance when placed in the presence of others. There have been no specific studies of how COVID has impacted the performance of athletes, but one must assume that some aspects of performance have been impacted” said Saucon’s AP Psychology teacher Mr. Kittek. Although it is not scientifically proven that athletes may be experiencing lower performance levels during the pandemic, Kittek explains that the evidence behind social facilitation can suggest that an absence of viewers may impair achievements among athletes.

Not only do Saucon’s athletes experience the disadvantages caused by the pandemic, but many viewers are also discouraged. Parents are upset that they can’t watch their kids live, and although they can watch online, it is not the same. Many people are annoyed that they can’t see everything that is going on behind the cameras, and their words of support cannot be heard as they yell at a screen. 

“It was frustrating because you couldn’t see as well. They couldn’t hear you cheering them on” said Missy Fiegal, a fan of the Saucon Valley wrestling team who almost never misses a match. “I really miss the interaction with the boys and the fans” added Fiegal, and many other frequent viewers are frustrated with the same things, especially the personal relations that the pandemic has taken away. 

Despite these unfortunate conditions, many are more than happy to be watching from home. Although there is a lot that the pandemic has robbed from sports and their fans, a majority of people would prefer to be safe in the comfort of their homes, rather than creating a risk for themselves and others by watching in person. By conforming to pandemic rules, athletes and fans are tolerating the strange sports seasons, hoping to decrease the chances of the same rules being applied next year.