How do Fans Affect Sports?

How do Fans Affect Sports?

Aidan Edwards, Writer

In years prior to 2020, all sports, including professional, college, high school, and youth sports, had fans at their games. In 2020, there have been major league championships, world championships, and youth sports games played with minimal to no fans. Currently, in St. Louis County, each high school player can only have two fans at a game. The changes in 2020 beg the question: Do athletes really need fans?

  Sports involve a mental and physical exercise for each player and team. Playing a game with no fans can directly impact the mental aspect of the game, which could then affect the quality of play. The constant cheering and the positive language towards the players can be motivating to players and teams. If players are hearing positive comments, it is going to drive them physically to play to the best of their abilities. For example, last year in the Priory soccer semifinals, the game was attended by a majority of the student body. Priory played through overtime and penalty kicks to a win and the fans motivated the players through the long and tough soccer game.

Fans do not always have to affect the team they are rooting for. Sometimes fans can affect the other team in such a negative way, making them play worse than they usually play. With fans in a football stadium, there could be more false starts and pre-snap penalties from a visiting team due to the amount of noise the home team fans are making. In addition to penalties, a loud crowd may cause the opposing team to call a timeout because the opposing team cannot even hear each other, which could affect them later in the game when they may need one. In basketball, the effects of crowd noise are seen frequently in free throw shooting. In the Big Ten, studies have shown that 13 of the 14 teams make free throws at a lower rate than they do at home. See   

To combat the impact of fans, many teams that play at an elite level hire people to train the players to overcome the feeling of being distracted by fans. The strongest athletes are those that are motivated to do better and keep a steady mind through positive cheers and negative comments. This is why the term “home court advantage” exists.