The impact of COVID-19 on sports attendance


Photo taken by Lindsay Gould

COVID-19 had a significant impact on the sports world, which was marked by the closure of gyms, stadiums, and practice fields during quarantine. In addition, the virus invoked various restrictions on players and teams who desired to stay in the game during the lockdown.

“Although we were happy to be playing games even with all the restrictions, COVID-19 was definitely a strange time,” wrote varsity boys basketball head coach Aaron Shaw.

Playing in front of an energetic crowd is an integral aspect of sports, especially football and basketball. When attendance was restricted, it affected the atmosphere in the gym and on the field. 

“Fans are extremely important and it is amazing to play in front of a full crowd,” wrote Shaw. “When our Bird Cage is full of students yelling and supporting our team it pumps our guys up and is a huge home-court advantage for us.”

Additionally, while COVID-19 had an extreme impact on how games were conducted, athletes struggled outside of practice to build a sense of team comradery that is vital for success. 

“I think our off-the-court team bonding suffered since we were not able to have a lot of team activities,” wrote Shaw. “I look forward to getting back to normal.”

While the past two years of sports have been filled with weekly COVID-19 tests, masks and social distancing, it seems life is returning back to normal.

“Now that we are back to normal with no COVID-19 restrictions I have seen a boom in attendance for football games,” wrote varsity football head coach Casey Webb.

Even without the impact of the pandemic, attendance at sports games seemed to be on the decline for a while.

“I remember back in the early 2000s our boys/girls basketball games were packed with students,” wrote Webb. “There was not one open seat…and now when I go to the games it is not well attended by students.”

On the contrary, the return from a post-COVID-19 restriction world has encouraged many students to get involved.

“The level of interest in sports seems to have increased since COVID-19,” wrote athletic director and varsity girls’ soccer head coach Kathryn Klamecki. “More students seem to be trying out for teams and wanting to get involved in athletics.”

As empty bleachers begin to fill with crowds once again, the Oak Park community needs to support the student-athletes on and off the field.

“I hope we can improve overall attendance for all sporting events,” wrote Webb. “We need to get the students to rally together and support these student-athletes!”