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Fan attendance at Loyola home games is uncertain

Loyola’s bleachers will likely be empty and silent. 2020 has been a year of firsts due to the ravaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought uncertainty as to whether or not fans will be permitted at home games this season.

Fans both provide and receive a sense of support, community and camaraderie when attending sporting events, which are important to Loyola’s faculty and student body. To Athletic Director Chris O’Donnell, attending sporting events is extremely important to him, and they take up a large amount of his time. 

O’Donnell said, “Part of my job as Athletic Director of Loyola is to attend games, so I go to several from Monday-Saturday during the school year.”

Junior Ethan Ide brought to light the importance of social connections at sporting events.

He explained, “I love going to games for the social aspect. When I’m deeply invested in a team, it’s all about the energy of the crowd, and while I am a big Loyola Cub fan, it’s more about the social atmosphere of those games. I like hanging out with my close friends before, during, and after the games, especially because Loyola sports is an easy way for us to connect.”

Loyola athletes benefit from in-person attendance as well: Fans give them the support and encouragement they need when their energy or spirits are low. 

Freshman Leo Martini said, “I believe that the players will not receive as much momentum and maybe even not as much inspiration to win without the energy from the fans.”

O’Donnell seconded this sentiment, saying, “100% it [in-person attendance] affects performance.  The passion of an in-person crowd gives players energy and now players are having to provide that energy themselves.  Some players are better at this than others.  On another note, having little to no crowd noise means that we can hear more and more of what happens or is said on the field, which makes players more heavily scrutinized by the public or the press, which can take away from player performance.”

Athletes like Jacob Walter, a junior who runs cross country, will have no choice but to adjust to these new circumstances. Walter will be running in the cross country meets scheduled for the fall sports season, and thinks that athletes will still be able to maintain their usual performance, even without spectators. 

Walter said, “Sporting events will definitely be a much different experience. Oftentimes, we can feed off the crowd’s energy, so a lack of spectators could possibly cause motivation to slightly lessen. I believe that if we push ourselves in practices, we can overcome any lack of motivation or energy that having spectators may bring.” 

Although hopeful, O’Donnell is uncertain whether or not Loyola sports will be able to have fans in the stands this year due to COVID-19.

Pumped in crowd noise and cardboard cutouts of people scattered throughout the stands are some of the valiant efforts by many sports organizations to fill the void that we are experiencing during these challenging times of the new normal. It is uncertain when sporting events will experience packed stadiums and roaring crowds once more.


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