Fixed fan limits reduce sports fame
FRI. | 02-19-21 | SPORTS
Rose junior setter Sloan Carlson receives the ball to serve from the referee. She looks to her coach to see where to position the serve, bounces the ball four times with one hand like always, then begins her motion. However, one thing is missing; the gym is completely silent due to the spectator restrictions.
Due to COVID-19 protocols, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) only allows 25 spectators at indoor sporting events including volleyball and basketball. The Rose volleyball team finished their season in January after reaching the Eastern Finals while the basketball team is currently midseason. Throughout each team’s season, fans could only attend home games and each player was allowed two spectators.
Photo taken by Jack Vick
“It’s a lot quieter than a normal year, and it’s just a whole different energy,” senior middle and right side hitter Grayson Norwood said.
Both Carlson and Norwood said that they wished they had fans the most when they played D.H. Conley and South Central as these are the games that usually have the most attendance. According to Norwood, this year was the first time that Rose had won a set against Conley in at least four years. They came very close to beating the cross town rival on multiple occasions even though Rose fans could only attend one of their three meetings.
“The fans always bring a lot of energy, especially our fans, while other student sections can sometimes bring you down,” Carlson said.
Although some may envision that less fans at these away games would be a possible advantage, many players still feel that the absence of Rose fans lessens the team’s support at away games.
“At away games, when we would cheer, it was only the team, but when the other team scored the whole gym would cheer, making it obvious that we didn’t have any fans there,” Carlson said.
This could clearly be frustrating for players, but was not as evident in games against teams such as Eastern Wayne and Southern Wayne, according to Carlson, as the games did not bring in many spectators even during a regular year. Norwood said that the team tried to only pay attention to each other and that that helped them to maintain momentum even when no one was cheering for them.
“It has been easier to hear other players and listen to our coach,” Norwood said.
Players have found a few upsides of spectator limits. Easier communication can make the game a lot simpler for the team. It also makes focusing a lot less difficult as there are no fans screaming at a player’s every move. According to Carlson, not having other teams’ student sections present was nice as they can tend to be harsh. Due to the spectator restrictions, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) created NFHS Network which allowed for players' extended family and other interested fans to watch all of the games on a live stream broadcast.
Carlson and Norwood both indicated that they missed having fans. Norwood said she enjoys more fans because of how loud the games become and that it just makes it more fun. They each mentioned missing out on the Rose student section called the Rowdy Rampants at both home and away games, especially in the playoffs. Carslon and other returning members of the team are hoping that by next season the gym will be packed with fans once again. Until then, as outdoor sports like soccer and football seasons start more Rose fans can return to sporting events.