photo via snappygoat under the creative commons license
One notable thing was missing in sports, fans. Sports without fans is a new experience for everyone.
For the players, sports without fans is a huge adjustment. The NBA is doing a bubble in Orlando. superstar Lebron James has spoken out about life in the bubble. James said, “You got to create your own energy here.” Since high school, James has played in front of crowds. Life without fans has been an adjustment for him.
NBA superstar James Harden has said some positive things about bubble basketball. Harden said, “It’s an opportunity for us as a team to communicate and talk more, especially on the defensive end.” Bubble basketball has been different, but players like Harden have looked at the positives and have taken advantage of the opportunity.
Even players who aren’t in a bubble, like MLB players, have had to adjust. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has spoken out about this. Jansen said, “It’s hard, man. I’m not gonna lie about that, It’s so much easier to pitch with fans in the stands.” Jansen has had some trouble this year. He currently has a 3.54 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, not bad but could be better. Cubs pitcher Jon Lester said, “It’s kind of boring not being allowed in the dugout or clubhouse during games. You have to find stuff to do.” It can be hard to focus.
The college level has also had to deal with sports without fans. Colonia 2020 Alumni Angelina Wintonick, is girls’ volleyball player for St. Francis College. When asked how do you think you would personally be effected by no fans, Wintonick responded, “When I play, I really just block spectators out, but sometimes it’s nice to have a crowd in an intense game to cheer the team on.” Although Wintonick seems to be able to work without fans, but it is still a new experience. Wintonick added, “Of course we want fans but realistically, there will not be any, the games are streamed online on NEC network so fans can watch games there.” Fans will still be able to support.
High School Sports
Outdoor sports are allowed to continue at the high school level but indoor sports can resume when it is deemed safe according to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. As sports began to open up, the Governor allowed the following: “Low-risk sports such as golf and tennis, may resume competition starting next Monday, a week from today, June 22. Medium-risk sports – baseball, softball, soccer and outdoor basketball – will be limited to non-contact drills and practices only, but barring a significant uptick in COVID-19 as we enter Stage 2, we anticipate allowing for the resumption of competition…on July 6,” Murphy said. “And finally, for high-risk sports, such as football, non-contact drills and practices may similarly resume next Monday and we hope to allow practices and competitions to resume starting on July 20.”
Colonia High School football player Steven Miller was asked what should be done to make sports safer. Miller responded, “For the fans and spectators to wear masks if they are coming to the game, and if anyone has symptoms of Covid just to stay home.” Miller believes that taking the right precautions can make all the difference. “I think fans should be allowed if they follow the guidelines that the governor made,” explained Miller, “The fans are a big part to the game with all the energy that they bring. It’s the best feeling at a football game to know that the whole town got your back.”
Spectators at outdoor events are allowed according to the Governor and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). They must follow the follow guidelines: all competitions and tournaments must abide by the state’s limits on outdoor gatherings, which is 500 people. Not included in the 500 spectator totals are the players, coaches, referees cheerleaders and band.
Closure of Schools and Sports’ Seasons
In New Jersey as students return to the classroom for hybrid and in-person learning, if 2 or more people test positive for Covid, the school must move to remote learning for 14 days. The following kindergarten through twelfth schools in New Jersey have switched to remote learning: Woodcliff Lake Middle School, Lenape Regional High School, Central High School, East Brunswick County Vocational Schools, Community Middle School, Markham Place Middle School, Griebling Elementary School, Chatham High School, East Hanover School District, Pompton Lakes High School, Frankford Township School District, Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Academy, Westfield High School, Belvidere School District and East Brunswick High School.
As the seasons begin to kick off, high school sports programs such Carteret and Piscataway are cancelling their sports seasons due to the pandemic while others have been postponing games. Only time will tell if Colonia High will be able to play their entire schedule.
Athletes from all walks of life are dealing with a different world to play in. It should be interesting to see how it goes.