SPORTS: Some SCHS sports teams are met with barren bleachers and empty stands due to a deficit of spectators and fans

From the crowds of hundreds in football to the empty greens of golf, the impact of fans on athletes is present in every corner of SCHS’s athletics. While some athletes adore the cheering and chanting from fans, others find them distracting, and the influence of a surplus or lack of fans can make or break an athlete.

COVID-19 has led to some sports getting hammered with restrictions. Junior, and three-time varsity swimmer Will Sidford reflected on his experiences surrounding fans. According to Sidford, the swim team does not receive many audience members who are not simply family members of the swimmers, resulting in quite low turnouts at swim meets. Sidford said this smaller number of fans may be due to the smaller number of athletes on swim.

“The number of fans per game averages between 10 to twenty,” Sidford said. “They are all family members of the athletes on swim. With a smaller athlete base comes a smaller amount of fans,”

This season of swimming has been particularly difficult for fans to attend. According to Sidford, the swim team is lacking a functional timing system. As a result, many of their meets have been held at other schools instead of at SCHS, which in turn, affects spectator turnout.

“Almost all of the meets are away meets, so it can be harder (for fans) to attend those,” Sidford said. “It’s a lot to ask people to attend sporting events at other schools.”

This lack of support from students and friends is not solely a swimming problem. Freshman wrestler and golfer Gyan Nawbatt recalled having similar issues with the number of fans in wrestling. Nawbatt said the fan base for wrestling mainly consisted of athletes’ relatives, even during finals.

“There were more wrestlers than there were non-wrestlers,” Nawbatt said. “There were many kids who didn’t have any relatives watching them during finals.”

Both Nawbatt and Sidford said that they believe this issue is due to a lack of awareness surrounding their sports.

“If we can raise awareness for the state of our swimming program, we might be able to have a fully functional program,” Sidford said.

Nawbatt also said that he believes a lack of recognition on the morning announcements is part of the issue.

“I feel like on the announcements, they really underappreciate the wrestling team,” Nawbatt said. “There was once this season when they mentioned wrestling on the announcements and that was during (wrestling) finals.”

Both Nawbatt and Sidford said fans have a positive impact on aspects of their sports. Nawbatt said that in wrestling, more fans meant better results for him and his team.

“The more people, the better the environment, the more energized you feel and the better you perform,” Nawbatt said. “It’s really easy to run out of energy without them.”

Sidford also believes fans improve his overall performance.

“The more pressure I have to perform, the faster I can go, knowing there are lots of people cheering for me,” Sidford said.