The impact of spectator limitations on athletes

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Caleb Smith

Junior Kaden Anderson prepares for his heat at the Newton Invite hosted on Dec. 14.

Daniel Gonzalez-Arevalo, Reporter

Sports are a major part of high school culture throughout the United States. Extracurricular activities allow students to represent their school and town respectively. The ability for students to go out and play in front of their town is something that is greatly motivating for young athletes. However, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Kansas it has been decided by the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) that parents/guardians of winter sports athletes will only be allowed two tickets per participant. 

For USD 373, gating criteria will depend on the mode of learning the district is in. If the district is in red or orange mode, no spectators will be allowed. Junior Kaden Anderson is a member of the swim team and understands the decision to prohibit fans from attending winter sporting events. Especially due to the increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the state.

“I think that it sucks that fans can’t be there, but it’s a smart decision based on how bad COVID is getting right now,” Anderson said. “This doesn’t affect me as much as it would if I was in another sport, because swim meets can still be pretty fun without a ton of spectators.”

Although Anderson predicts that the absence of fans will not affect swim meets all that much, he believes that the atmosphere of other winters sports such as basketball will be affected. However, junior Owen Mills is of the opinion that although fans do add to the excitement of the game, the real excitement comes from the players on the court and bench. Mills is a member of the varsity boys basketball team and is already used to a small audience due to AAU basketball.

“Personally I’m a big competitor, most of my energy comes from wanting to win the game, and I’m sure most players can agree teammates are your biggest audience regardless of whether an audience is in the gym or not,” Mills said. “When I’m on the court I’m playing for the four other Railers there with me, as well as the ones on the bench.”

Despite Anderson seemingly not having a problem with the absence of fans at swim meets, he is able to acknowledge what they add to the sport. Specifically, the excitement and motivation they give to athletes as they are about to compete.

“When people cheer during swim meets, it makes you more excited and you usually do better because of it,” Anderson said. “Fans push and encourage every athlete to do the best they possibly can at whatever they are competing in.”

Mills too was able to reflect on what it means to play with fans. Mills believes that the sport of basketball is a form of art and it is no good if you are not able to show it off for others. He hopes that eventually there will be a regulated amount of fans at games, in order to continue to display the art he and his teammates create every night.

“Our team gets to put our talents on display for the enjoyment of others,” Mills said. “We give the crowd just as much energy as they give us, that’s the essence of art, it’s purpose is to be shared and appreciated.”

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