November 24, 2020

Last week, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs came to a conclusion, with the Tampa Bay Lightning walking away with the coveted silver trophy. The NBA Finals are wrapping up soon as well. Diehard sports fans had to take different precautions this year to watch sports, similar to how organizations had to take precautions. 

The biggest change about sports this year was the lack of fans in attendance. NHL, NBA, WWE, and more organizations have deemed a live crowd unsafe thanks to the global pandemic. Crowds have fallen silent, literally, as fans are now watching from home. Many feel like the atmosphere and crowd reaction is the most important aspect of sports. The debate is that sports just aren’t the same when there’s no fans, so how have fans been handling watching sports during COVID-19 pandemic?

Many fans thrive off the roar of the crowd. Being apart of a unified group, and giving off a contagious form of energy for their favourite team. Bars, and sports pubs have now reopened, thus allowing for fans to get their fair share of interaction, and dopamine, with many conditions though. 

The NBA, and WWE have implemented a viewing from home experience into their events. The organizations have been allowing fans to watch from home, and be in the front row of sorts through a virtual experience, where their faces show on a giant LED board, and their audio can be heard by the athletes. The NBA and WWE truly thrive off the fan reactions, so it makes sense that the organizations would do anything in their power to bring fans in, even if they’re only their virtually. 

Julia Roes, an employee at Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill in Stratford, Ont., said “Normally there’s a few people who cheer when a goal is scored, but it really doesn’t feel the same. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I can still get into any sort of game depending on the energy and rush from a crowd or group. Since sports continued, it feels different. The Stanley Cup was hoisted in front of zero fans, and that’s depressing to me.”

Roes is Toronto Maple Leafs fan if anything, so she hasn’t really followed the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs since their unfortunate play-in round exit against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Lindsey Robinson, a 19-year-old employee at East Side Marios in Waterloo, Ont., believes that sports are wildly different. She said, “The last two years, my boyfriend and I would sit down and watch a few playoff games here and there, but this year we just didn’t really care. It’s almost as if the lack of fans takes away the electric environment that sports normally have.”

She added, “Working at East Side Marios, sports aren’t as important as they are at the local bar, but even with our game night deals, business wasn’t exactly booming. I think a majority of fans aren’t ready to return, even if almost everyone wants to.”

According to the Canadian Restaurant Association, bars are a hotspot when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. It’s probably a good thing if sports fans just stick to enjoying the game within the safety of their own home.

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