Fans Back In The Stands

Noah Friis, Staff

Since the Covid 19 Pandemic hit the United States by surprise over a year ago much has changed since then. Once the pandemic hit, most business, sporting events, and much more were shut down until further notice, sports fans waiting for what felt like ages for them to see their favorite teams finally play on the TV again. Once sports started to reopen and start to play again sports fans were happy that there were sports that were starting up again and on the TV for them to watch but they still could not see their favorite teams in person. Many more things needed to happen in order for fans to go back in the stands, lots of vaccinations, and the spread of Covid to go down. During the course of the year, the vaccine was created and the spread was starting to slow down. This now gave professional sports teams the ability to allow limited numbers of fans back into the stands to cheer their favorite sports team again. However, some states, with stricter restrictions than others were either not allowed to have fans at all or had very limited capacity, and some other states were allowed to have more capacity than others. Now that there would be fans allowed to be in the stands what protocols would these people have to follow and what other new things would they change about going to a game? Pro sports leagues like the MLB outlined guidelines for allowing fans back into ballparks this year, and at this point, social distancing and mask-wearing will be enforced but no vaccine checks or negative COVID-19 test results will be required. The guidelines are dependent on adhering to the teams’ local government guidelines and restrictions. These guidelines were constantly changed due to situations and sooner than later fans would have to get a negative covid result or proof of a vaccine in order to sit in some places in the stands. Places where social distancing is limited and fans are closer together (usually the better and more expensive seats) require these things in order to sit there but worse seats and less expensive seats with social distancing do not require a negative covid or vaccine result. Different sports handled their situations last season while the NBA had a bubble held in Orlando, Florida where no fans could attend games and players were not allowed to leave the bubble the Last season, all regular-season games and most postseason contests were played in front of empty stands. During the National League Championship Series and World Series, both held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, fans were allowed to attend in limited numbers representing about 28% of the stadium’s full capacity. This year however basketball and baseball pretty much are allowing the same capacity, in states like Texas and Florida the capacity is more, and in one of the Texas Rangers home games this season they allowed 100 percent capacity and was the first time in basically a whole year a stadium was allowed to have all those people in.  Each of the 30 teams in the MLB announced its plans regarding attendance for early-season games, something that depends on local policies and team rules. On Opening Day, for example, there was a crowd of 10,850 at Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees face the Blue Jays, and a crowd of 20,570 at Coors Field to see the Rockies take on the defending-champion Dodgers. I interviewed some of my friends who attended a Padres game this season, they said that they still had a very fun time and was just like the normal games but they did need to get the negative covid test, and it was much less crowded than it is used to be a game. However, he said the stands were the same everything was the same and they got the same game and exciting feeling as normal just with fewer people. With progress still to be made on the vaccination front and nearly half of a year’s worth of time remaining, a positive, hopeful approach is understandable. And while the NFL and many other sports leagues did a remarkable job in devising and directing testing, distancing, masking, and quarantining efforts that set standard other sports have since replicated, the league will again aim to take a leading role in the push toward a return to a more normal reality for sports and American life. However for stadiums to become to 100 percent capacity a lot more needs to happen including slowing down the covid 19 spread and many other things, but for right now fans are pretty excited to finally start seeing their teams in action, and people can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and our world turning back to what it once fabulously was.