Fans Limited at Games Amid Covid-19
Following a year of cancellations and restrictions, Hopkins’ student-athletes finally returned to interscholastic play on Saturday, April 10.
While each team was able to compete against its respective opponents, the cheering sections were noticeably smaller. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hopkins only allowed two spectators per athlete in the stands, which is a major change from pre-pandemic sporting events, where students were often packed into the stands, enthusiastically cheering on their classmates. Director of Medical Services and Head Athletic Trainer for Sports Medicine Don Bagnall explained that these safety measures are enforced “by school faculty, staff, coaches, etc.”
Student opinions on this policy were mixed. JJ Drummond ’22 supported the restriction: “The spectator rule is a precaution that is necessary to keep both teams safe.” However, some students expressed grievances with this new regulation. Marin Ciardiello ’22 was disappointed, stating, “I had some family that wanted to come [to the first game] but were not able to because my parents took up my [two] spots.” For others, the extra precautions were still not enough to ease their nerves. Eli Ratner ’24 said that his parents “were a bit concerned about the protocols, but they felt much safer once [he] explained the reasoning to them.”
Most student-athletes agreed that these new restrictions were better than the alternative of no fans. Margot Sack ’24 “had missed the excitement that comes along with spring at Hopkins, especially spring sports” and is grateful that “it felt [like] things are finally starting to return to normal.” Ciardiello seconded this sentiment: “I think there would have been a [negative] impact if no one was allowed to watch, so I am thankful that wasn’t the case.” Teddy Glover ’21 agreed: “While it wasn’t what we would normally expect, even the presence of spectators at all was a huge boost.”
In many cases, athletes and spectators alike noticed that these regulations did not have much enforcement. Sophia Neilson ’23 attended a Varsity Softball game and recalled that, while social distancing measures were followed, “nobody asked who we were there for. I kind of just went in and sat down.”
In some games, the number of fans in the stands was actually higher than before the pandemic. Giulia Crosio ’24 was surprised at her tennis matches as “there were more fans [on Saturday] than ever [before].” Sack noticed how “as the day went on, people from other games started to watch our match too.”
Most of all, athletes are simply looking forward to the continued presence of fans at games. Sack said, “I saw how [the spectators] made our team bring even more energy and helped boost positivity all around.” Tanner Lee ’23 said, “I’m really excited for fans to start being back at games regularly because the fans can bring up the energy in a stadium and make the game more interesting and meaningful for the players.” Ratner supported this statement: “At my most recent game, even with the limited fans, the support I received from the fans and the sense of community I felt was unparalleled and something I look forward to experiencing every game.”