The Crowd Goes Wild: The impact of spectators at college sporting events.

The cheers and claps from the crowd are the most exhilarating sounds an athlete can hear. From smaller claps on the golf course to shouts and screams on the field, athletes thrive on the support of their closest family, friends and fans.

For the majority of the spring season, the Middle Atlantic Conference prohibited all athletic competitions from having spectators. This meant that athlete wouldn’t hear these screams, hear their names being called and numbers being cheered.

Beginning April 5, the ban was lifted. MAC allowed its schools to have fans at competitions but also left them the freedom to make their own respective rules on
spectator policies.

Eastern University’s spectator policy allows current students and faculty to attend outdoor events, and each athlete is allowed two tickets for other guests. These two
guests undergo a health screening before being allowed on campus to watch the event. Once the guests are on campus, they must follow social-distancing guidelines and wear a mask at all times. Eastern also asks all spectators to refrain from gathering in large groups before or after the event and sit in the designated areas laid out by Eastern’s game management team.

Aside from the specific yet necessary and helpful guidelines, the return of fans was an occasion that many students and athletes looked forward to since the spring
season commenced. Athletes missed their friends being able to watch them play their sport, and friends missed being able to hype up their favorite athletes.

The men’s lacrosse game on April 7 drew as large a crowd as possible in this pandemic. The Kea-Guffin hill was packed with parents and students, as far down as the auxiliary field. With each goal the team scored in its 12-7 victory over Widener, the crowd erupted in praising shouts and cheers. Accompanied by Olson Field’s goal horn and song, the atmosphere was once again electric.

The game ended with a salute to the fans, as the guys jogged over to the spectators and clapped their hands, cheering in gratitude. They posed for photos and waved to family and friends, and the fans waved back. “I love you, mom!” and “Hey dad!” were yelled up the hill from the field, and back down, “Great game!” and “Love you too!” were returned.

A week later, the softball team took the field against Messiah, drawing crowds down the third baseline on the curb outside Warner Library. Fans got to see a rally in

the second game of the double-header, as Eagles’ softball tied the score at 7 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Unfortunately, Messiah pulled ahead in extra innings, but the fan support behind closing pitcher, Lexi Evelyn, was more than encouraging. Hearing family members and teammates shout, “Like you can, kid!” and “Alright two-six!” made eyes clear and hearts full.

The smallest gestures and phrases make an impression on athletes’ performances. Having a crowd in the stands makes all the difference. With the noise from the fans, a player’s own thoughts are drowned out. All that matters is that moment, that game, that rush, that adrenaline cultivated by the crowd’s applauds and shouts.

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