Fans absence during games affects athletes, spectators help motivate players
With the start of spring sports right around the corner, the question of whether spectators are allowed to watch games in-person has arisen again.
Throughout the school year, COVID-19 has prevented students, parents and fans from watching and supporting athletes from the stands during games. This spring season, spectators hope for circumstances to change, but the school and athletic staff aren’t sure as these are unprecedented times.
“We know that our families [and students] are eager to have the opportunity to watch their respective student-athletes in action,” Director of Athletics Dan Gill said. “Our department will continue to adhere to all health and safety protocols that have been effectively implemented in order for us to maintain in-person learning, which remains our most important priority.”
The school’s athletic department has not been going through this process alone. The athletic staff from schools around Dallas have been communicating and making decisions on what the best way to keep students playing sports is.
“We continue to closely monitor local, regional and national developments,” Gill said. “My staff and I remain in contact with athletic directors and coaches from across the SPC, UIL and TAPPS, sharing information and best practices as we navigate through this pandemic.”
The athletic staff has decided that the best way to play sports safely during the pandemic is to continue following the rules that athletes and spectators have been respecting.
“All of our home JV and varsity games can be viewed from our streaming service that we are providing due to our spectator restrictions,” Gill said. “Links are posted on ESD’s website and social media outlets, and as in previous seasons, we hope to let limited attendance for Senior Night.”
Lacrosse athletes are especially affected by this news as the sport has grown to be popular for students to attend. The energy from the student section gives athletes a sense of motivation.
“It would be really sad if we couldn’t have any students at our lacrosse games because no one from the outside understands what a crowd can do to the players and the game itself,” senior womens lacrosse player Sam Whiting said. “If you’re down by a few goals, the students are there to motivate you and bring up the intensity of the game. When people are there cheering for you, for me, it gives me a reason to work harder.”
Seniors playing lacrosse are trying to remain hopeful throughout this erratic and upcoming season as they want to make the most of their games during these last few moments in high school.
“In times so unpredictable like now, I’m trying to remain optimistic,” senior mens lacrosse player Reed Landin said. “I know Sothoron, Gill and the entire coaching staff are trying to make our season as normal as possible and doing the best they can, so I have to give them so much credit for all the hard work and dedication to our team and program to get their job done in times like this. It’s going to be a ride, but the coaches and players are just taking it day by day.”
Similarly, for baseball athletes, the news has upset many players as fans have an impact on their games and drive them to work harder.
“Having fans at games gives me something to play for, and it makes playing baseball more fun for me,” sophomore baseball player Jett Bowling said. “Sadly, spectators aren’t allowed to go to regularly [scheduled] games this season, so it will definitely be weirder and different with no fans, but I’m just happy to be playing baseball.”
The student body is also disappointed that they are unable to support the players in lacrosse games and some believe that under regulations, students and families should be able to attend.
“My favorite aspect of [watching] games is all of the support the students give because it makes it feel like everybody is one big family,” sophomore Kate Battaglia said. “I’m really sad that I can’t go to any games, and I think under certain regulations, if everybody is spaced out and wears masks, the school should let them go.”
As college nears, senior athletes look back on their previous years and cherish their favorite moments of the student body, players and parents coming together.
“I remember as a teary-eyed freshman after losing in the state-semifinal game to St. Mark’s trying to comfort myself by saying, ‘I have three more years,’ and now, I am in my last semester of high school,” Landin said. “Lacrosse on Friday night lights versus Jesuit, HP or St. Mark’s with a sold out crowd is one of the best memories I’ve had at ESD, and something I will always remember.”