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Op-ed: See you in the stands

Approaching the 116th minute of the 2010 world cup, chants, songs, screams, and cheers from fans filled the stadium, as fans pleaded with all respective gods to grant their wishes of seeing their country take home the world cup. With one fan prayer being answered, Andres Iniesta volleys the ball into the corner of the goal ending the game, bringing the 2010 World Cup home to Spain and sending the crowd into entropy. Cheers from Spanish fans echoed off the walls of the circular stadium, and the cries from Dutch fans whose team had lost did the same.  

For two years after, every time Iniesta entered any stadium for La Iga games, fans cheered and chanted his name, commemorating the experience he provided for them 2 years prior. There is no denying the impact of the player on the spectator, however, what is the impact of the spectator on the player?  

Rollins is the home of 10 Varsity Men’s and 11 Varsity Women’s teams featuring fan favorites such as soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and tennis. The majority of these teams compete under the Sunshine State Conference, which is held under the NCAA’s Division II. Ranking not only in academic success, Rollins sports teams have also gone on to rank nationally, with 23 National Championships under our belt as well as over 90 Sunshine State Conference Championships. There is no denying that Tars have been pulling their weight on the fields and in the water, however what about in the stands?  

In the past, student Tars have packed the stands to support classmates and friends, however, in recent months spectator attendance has witnessed an evident decline.  

“The turnout heavily declined during COVID; however, we’ve been seeing a steady increase, especially this past fall,” said Associate Vice President of Athletics Pennie Parker. 

The pandemic heavily impacted sports spectatorship, and attendance, however, why is building those numbers up in a post-pandemic world important? Fans are incredibly important to the atmosphere of sporting events, as they provide energy, enthusiasm and support. Fans and spectators hold equal weight to the players and athletes of a game in creating an atmosphere and a community.  

“It’s a little bit embarrassing when the opposing team’s side is filled with fans, and you look over and ours are just kind of empty,” said Michelle Fickett (’24), a goalkeeper for the Rollins College Women’s Soccer team.  

A reason why spectator turnout might be so low recently comes from the way in which games have been advertised. Many students seem to be unaware of when games are due to the main form of advertisement being through email. Emails are sent out weekly promoting games, with all information attached in a digital flyer, however, students have commented on the fact that these digital flyers often get ignored.  

“I guess we get the email once a week, but I rarely click on it,” said student Grace Markese (‘25).  

Pre-COVID-19, games featured community events such as tailgates. Activities such as themed lawn games, live music, and concessions could increase engagement and a sense of community at sporting events, but these things only seem to be viable if there are people willing to fill the stands.  

Sporting events are only successful when it is a mutualistic relationship. In other words, while the players provide entertainment for the spectator through the sport, the fans provides support, motivation, and the sense of community that makes sporting events so special. Next time that email rolls around featuring a Rollins sporting event, consider supporting your fellow Tars.  

See you in the stands! 

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College. Have any additional tips or opinions? Send us your response. We want to hear your voice.

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