Turnover to Empty Stands

NFL continues season without fans in order to keep fans and players safe

Aiden Lewald, Staff Writer

The camera pans the field, first focusing on the star players, then shifting to the sidelines full of coaches, trainers, and even more players, before it finally lands on the stands. 

There is something a bit different about the stands this year… they are practically empty, or in some cases, completely void of all fans. 

This season, the National Football League is having to do something a little different. Less fans, more masks, and a whole lot of restrictions. 

I believe that these restrictions are necessary, but I cannot deny how they are negatively affecting the players.

Even though the hardcore fans are still cheering like always… This year, most of them are cheering from their living rooms instead of the arenas. 

I don’t play sports. As a result of this lack of athleticism, I have never personally experienced the struggles that stem from a lack of crowd. 

Though, I have seen how it affects my football playing peers, along with its affects on my preferred team.

Football teams, professional and high school alike, get their morale from the boisterous fans. Without that, they can’t help but struggle.

Teams like the New Orleans Saints, who are known to rely on the cheers echoing from the Superdome, are struggling to keep their morale up during close games.

In the second game of the season for the Saints, they lost to the Oakland Raiders. They had a 10 point lead for the first quarter, but in the second quarter the Raiders scored 17 points on them, tying up the first half. 

After a half-time that began with the Raiders scoring tremendous points on them, the Saints lost their usual spirit.

The second half did not end well for them, resulting from the fact that they fans were not there to cheer up the frustrated players. 

This morale struggle is not just impacting the Saints. It is also affecting teams such as the Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, and the Arizona Cardinals, who all are not allowing any fans in their stadiums as of early October. 

These teams are struggling to keep their spirits up during games, causing their offense and defenses to struggle, which in the end, results in a loss. 

On the other hand, some teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers have restrictions on how many fans can enter the stadium. Implementing rules that include stadium mask mandates and social distancing to keep players, staff, and spectators safe. 

A bit of humour in these dark times has stemmed from the fake cheers and boos. 

No matter how amusing these fake cheers and boos are, they are extremely necessary for this season. 

Even the slightest amount of fans cheering, even if it’s a prerecorded track, helps boost the players’ motivation. 

Fans, including my family and I, have criticized the timing of the boos and cheers, even if they believe that this spirit enhancer is extremely important for this current season.

Although they have these restrictions, games are still being rescheduled due to players testing positive.

According to CBS sports, eight games have already been rescheduled to later dates due to a player on the New England Patriots testing positive. 

As a result of these audience restrictions and sudden reschedulings many players are in for a rough 2020-2021 season.  

Players who were expected to do well are doing poor compared to their previous season stats; the same applying for the flip side.

Not only does this drastic change in statistics affect their overall player standing, it affects Fantasy Football, also known as one of the most important features of professional football.. 

Junior Addison DeBoer is one of these peers. 

DeBoer was one of many who expected Huoston Texan’s Wide Receiver, Will Fuller to do significantly better than he currently is.

By week five of the previous season, Fuller was in the top ten of all wide receivers, fantasy point wise.

Now, as it approaches week 6, he’s currently top 33. There is a lot to say about a player who once ranked top ten, who is now ranking in the thirties. 

This major change in stats could result from many things. One being that a player may be struggling due to the lack of crowds, or they may not be handling the restrictions placed onto them by the NFL well. 

Or in the end, it could be them just having a rough season with no relation to the global pandemic. 

Even if many players and their stats will be skewed for the season, and some for the rest of their careers, it is necessary for this season to continue on.

As this football season carries on, we as dedicated football fans should still be grateful for the season we’re given, while also addressing the negativity it brings.