After competing in a modified soccer season that allowed ten soccer games to be held with no spectators, I came to a conclusion: sporting events are just not the same without the roar of the crowd. 

Last school year in order to spectate a game, you had two choices: sit behind a computer screen or sit behind a fence (if you were lucky enough to even be granted that permission). Now, nearly a year into the pandemic, stands are allowed to be filled again. As an athlete and as a spectator, I feel an immense amount of excitement to experience the noise again. 

Last week, a familiar sound that I had forgotten about arose from the crowd of college students when a foul was decided against our women’s soccer team. I instantly felt a rush of adrenaline from the fact that college students were screaming from the stands over a call they more than likely weren’t sure of themselves. The support from the community motivated me. I was not sure what to expect from the game, which was the first home game of the school year that allowed spectators. However, the stands were filled with a loud crowd and there was no question we had a community that supported us.

I believe in the observer effect: you play better when you know you are being watched. How could you not? Everyone wants their fans to witness them score a goal, throw a touchdown, win a race and succeed overall. It was not until I played in a match during the pandemic season that I heard silence so loud and clear. The silence was mentally draining and having to stay plugged in for an entire 90-minute match was harder than ever before. There is nothing like playing in front of a crowd that so badly wants your team to win. I believe that crowds are more vital than we previously thought before COVID-19. 

Pacific University plans to allow spectators into 2021-2022 sporting events with proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Fans are back screaming from the stands and as a result, athletes are back with more energy than ever before. — Emily Rutkowski

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Emily Rutkowski is a sophomore from Mesa, Arizona. She enjoys playing soccer for the women's soccer team here at Pacific University. In her free time, she loves being outdoors and socializing with friends and family.

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