By LJ VP Lafiura & Karissa Gaughan – 1851 Staff
Over a year ago, the professional sports world shut down. As the pandemic raged on, sports fans slowly saw professional and collegiate sports return, but without an in-person audience. Many states, including Massachusetts, are now beginning to allow attendance as they see fit.
Local professional teams such as the Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics are now operating at 12 percent capacity at their games in 2021. While fans will not be back in full capacity, there is still plenty of buzz around those who will be attending.
“I’m extremely grateful that the NHL has allowed fans back into their stadiums so we can all watch the game we love,” said Bruins fan, senior Dalton Conran.
A lifelong fan of the team, Conran is one of the many who has waited with anticipation to see the team he loves. “I was heartbroken,” he said of losing sports a year ago. “I used sports as a sort of escape mechanism when I’m having a bad day. Watching sports usually brings me out of whatever slump I’m in, so when I heard they were canceling all sports, I felt almost lost.”
Conran attended the Bruins’ first home game with fans on March 25.
Not allowing attendance has not only affected the fans at the stadium but also affected the players and the fans watching from home. Watching an MLB game last season, fans saw the cameras pan across empty rows and heard soundbites of fans cheering and clapping. Listening to fake fans while viewing an empty stadium is a disorienting experience and does not instill any normalcy for the athletes who thrive off fans’ energy.
To keep their doors open to fans, the Red Sox have developed a health and safety program centered around cleaning, facility modifications, technological enhancement, and employee training. The ballpark staff will consistently clean “high touch” areas throughout the day and they have altered common areas such as retail locations and concessions to optimize social distancing. They have also employed technology such as mobile ordering and cameras to deter dense crowds.
The Red Sox official website states, “We are also working closely with officials from Major League Baseball, State of Massachusetts and City of Boston to develop these new measures and adhere to any and all requirements issued by those authorities.”
Not only will these policies promote health and safety, but they will help encourage more weary fans like junior Virginia Bry to come back to the stadium sooner rather than later.
“I would like to think that I would be comfortable because I missed sports a lot, and I feel like as long as social distancing is abided by and masks are worn, that would definitely make me even more comfortable about going,” said Bry.