This season, sporting events will look different. Fans who normally crowd the stands will have to watch games virtually via live streams.
Strapped with a N-95 mask, hand sanitizer, and prepared to social distance, Webster alumnus Rodney Humphries was ready to attend the Webster Gorlok’s basketball games for the seventh year in a row.
Humphries and many others were excited to attend spring sports events, until the university came out with a new guideline: no fans will be allowed at sporting events.
Humphries has been consistently attending and supporting the Webster basketball team since 2014, going to six or seven games per season.
“When I first heard, I was disappointed, but not surprised. I always say I am a Gorlok for life, so when I heard I can’t go back and reminisce on some of the best years of my life, it was pretty tough,” Humphries said.
Webster women’s soccer captain Jordan Bilyeu is not thrilled to have to play without fans, but is still thankful for the opportunity to have a season.
“Fans set the atmosphere. Positivity and encouragement from the stands really make a difference. When fans are engaged, it makes me feel like people care about the sport I am playing and the success of the team,” Bilyeu said. “I will definitely miss the support from my family [in the stands] and the excitement that it brings.”
Webster will live stream games, so family and friends can watch safely from home. National Collegiate Athletic Association faculty representative Scott Jensen understands the scenario is not ideal but trusts the people who are in position to make this decision.
“The most important thing is to get our athletes back to competing. If this is the way it has to be done, then I think it is worth the temporary sacrifice of fans,” Jensen said. “There will be efforts made to live stream games, so we can still have fan access.”
The decision for this new guideline was presumably made in January by conference-wide presidents and directors of athletics.
“Even though we have dealt with this for almost a year, there is still a lot we don’t know about this unpredictable virus. There is always a caution and so I think rather than risk the chance of spreading the virus, it is safer to create a context where there is less risk,” Jensen said.
Bilyeu reflected on a time the fans helped and supported the team during a conference game.
“Last year, we won the conference championship. The fans were so loud and excited for us. It was one of those moments that athletes live for. Without the fans, it would have been completely different,” Bilyeu said.
Even though fans will not be allowed at sporting events this year, Webster family, friends and alumni will still be showing their support through livestream. Humphries wants the athletes to know he will be rooting for them.