Full capacity stadiums remind us why we fell in love with sports

A return to normal in the sports world is approaching as venues begin operating near full-capacity

Fans are crucial to a great atmosphere. The Link

Sports are more than just a game to fans, they bring out passion. When sports were given the green-light to resume play, however, games felt as though something was missing. The answer to that was clear—it was the fans. The intensity provided by artificial crowd noise is nowhere near the same as tangible fans.

“There’s tonnes of intensity, but we don’t feel it as viewers due to there being no fans,” said Olivier Neven, my predecessor, on The Pressbox Hat Trick Podcast regarding the Montreal Canadiens playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It has been a little boring and lethargic to watch at times,” he added. Granted, the Canadiens are not the most exciting team to watch. However, this simply does not embody a playoff atmosphere.

The Canadiens are currently trailing their best of seven series by a score of three games to two. They will be allowed to admit up to 2,500 fans starting May 28, according to an announcement made by Premier François Legault on May 18. 

The difference between American and Canadian crowds is night and day. Attendance is zero north of the border, whereas Madison Square Garden in New York City hosted 15,000 fans for a Knicks playoff game. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that 40.2 per cent of the US population is fully vaccinated compared to 4.8 per cent of the Canadian population.

“Fans change the entire dynamic of a game,” said Chrys Kakomanolis, a die-hard New York Yankees fan. “Not only do they change the atmosphere, but they make players nervous, resulting in a more intense game.” 

Visiting teams are more liable to make mistakes thus giving the home team a significant advantage. While professional sports have resumed worldwide, they have not been the same whatsoever without the fans scrutinizing each and every moment.

One of my absolute favourite things to do is attend live sporting events. I purchased two tickets to the Philadelphia 76ers against the Toronto Raptors in Philadelphia for March 18, 2020. The National Basketball Association went into a hiatus on March 15, 2020, and I have yet to get a refund for my tickets. If that is not the most 2020 story, I do not know what is. 

On top of the change in atmosphere that fans provide, their presence helps grow local businesses that may be dependent on game nights for revenue. In Montreal alone, many restaurants have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Those located downtown with extremely high rent have gotten the short end of the stick with fans unable to eat out due to provincial restrictions.

The bottom line is, fans play a massive part in making sports what they are. The excitement, the joy, and the passion displayed by supporters is projected onto the players. Athletes will admit that fans make the game great. The raw emotion of the fans reminds us of why we fell in love with sports.