National sports leagues adapt to COVID-19, as do fans

Originally published in La Plaza Press


With the complications of 2020, every sports league has had to adapt in order to stay afloat.  Many changes have been made, with mixed reactions from fans. 

One of the biggest differences is the absence or limitation of crowds.  Without crowds of people, the atmosphere of the events completely changed.  

“It does make it feel more awkward and it takes away the Roman colosseum feel,” says Matthew Alvizo, a junior at Redlands East Valley.  

A Wilson NCAA basketball is shown in front of a basketball hoop in Redlands on Feb. 8, 2021. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

To combat this issue, some organizations got creative. The National Basketball Association, National Football League and World Wrestling Entertainment are some leagues which include virtual seating for fans who want to show support while staying safe.  

Because most sports include lots of physical contact, players are very susceptible to getting the coronavirus.  This has had an impact on players’ willingness and ability to play. An example is the NFL’s Cam Newton, who was not allowed to play against the Kansas City Chiefs due to testing positive for coronavirus.  To combat the spread, some sports play in “bubbles” that no one can enter or leave, protecting players, coaches, and everyone else inside from contracting the virus.  This strategy has been successful for players in the NBA, WNBA, NWSL, and NLS.  

A Wilson NFL football is shown on a patch of grass in Redlands on Feb. 8, 2021. (MIA ARANDA/ La Plaza photo)

Sports have been very different this past year. However, many fans are enjoying the new format and even enjoy it more.  

“It’s made me watch them more,” says Alejandro Rodriguez,  a sophomore at South Carolina Virtual Charter School. 

“I dislike crowds and prefer to watch Esports alone so I have been enjoying watching just as much as usual,” says Paul McClure, a junior at Redlands High School.  

While this past year has proven to be a challenge for sports fans, players, and leagues alike, all three levels have, and continue to, adapt to the challenges that the infectious coronavirus poses. For some, the adjustments in the sports world are pleasant deviations from tradition. 

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