COVID-19 Social Side Effects: How to Play to an Empty Stadium

The COVID-19 pandemic is greatly affecting sports across the world.

As of this week, the World Health Organization has upgraded the COVID-19 virus from a global health emergency, to a pandemic. This has affected a lot of areas of our society, from workers being asked to stay home, to a ban of public gatherings of 250+ people. Just today, Disney decided to close. You know the problem is getting serious if a capitalist beast like Disney decides to start turning away money!

The effects of COVID-19 have also spread into the world of sports. The NBA has officially suspended the season, March Madness has been cancelled, and the future of this year’s Olympic Games hangs in the balance. There are a lot of areas of the COVID-19 pandemic I could speak to, but given the lack of information, (and plethora of misinformation descending upon the Internet), I decided to focus on motivation, instead.

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One of the best parts of being an athlete is the fans. There is nothing like playing against your opponents in front of a large group of screaming people. A ban of large gatherings means that sports arenas sit empty, while athletes continue to play. So how do we keep the motivation to play, without the fans?

Here is a short list of ways you can keep your inspiration intact, while playing to a stadium full of chocolate covered crickets:

Play for your family. Whether you have children, a spouse, a mother, or siblings, chances are there is someone in your family that believes in you. Maybe they won’t be there watching right now, but thinking of them while you play is one surefire way to keep your head in the game.

Play for your teammates. Team camaraderie is one of the most important motivations an athlete can have. The fear of letting your teammates down is a great way to stay motivated. After all, without fans, teammates are the only real reason you are there in the first place.

Play for your own skills. I’ve learned that no matter how many times you play a sport, there is always something new to learn. A lack of spectators gives you the chance to try out some new skills.

Play for the love of the sport. Adults don’t normally play sports for any other reason than love. If you are an adult athlete, chances are you are in love with your sport. So playing that sport, regardless of who is watching, should be reason enough to play to a stadium of ghosts.

Play to Practice. No matter how good you are, you can always use more practice. If nobody shows up to watch, just consider these COVID-19 games practice for greater games to come.

Play to win. At the end of the day, athletes want to win. If you can’t think of any other motivation to play to an empty crowd, play to win.

Sports have historically been a form of entertainment, especially during troubling times. Sports offer and escape for people, and a chance to root for something outside themselves. Athletes are the lifeblood to that endeavor. So, if you are healthy and happy, I say keep showing up to your games and playing, no matter who is watching!

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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