NWAC guidelines: Athletes compete without spectators

Published by J.R. Williams on

Empty seats at the a stadium
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NWAC guidelines:
Athletes compete without spectators

UCC athletes have started competing under NWAC pandemic sanctions, including no spectators.  No spectators will be permitted into any NWAC competitions, which can impact competition. 

NWAC closed competition last March, nearly a year ago.  UCC men’s basketball was on their way to tournament at the time.  “We found out when we showed up,” said Isaac Lungren, an AAOT basketball student from Utah focusing on business with interest in journalism. 

NWAC created color phase guidelines for when games and training could safely start.  The decision on spectators was not finalized until after the start of the fall 2020 term. 

A mask hanging on the basket hoop
Photo by J.R. Williams / The Mainstream

UCC coaching staff prepared the athletes mentally for no spectators from the beginning of the training season.  “The coaches told us it would be highly unlikely anyone would be able to watch our games,” said Gracie Andersen, an AAOT nursing student and basketball player from Idaho, said in a phone interview. 

Lungren said, “We only found out for sure about a month ago. Coach told us at the end of practice that day.”

Not all athletes in the nation are getting a season, so UCC athletes are grateful they can compete.  Some schools in the nation decided to cancel sports altogether for the 2021 seasons. 

“After what happened at tournament, if we even get a season this year, it’s a win,” Lungren said.

Most training happens with athletes knowing spectators are going to be watching the results of an athlete’s dedication.  “Games are the reward for all our hard work in practice over the last five months; getting to show how much we have improved is a big part of that,” said Andersen.

Knowing there will be no spectators can crush the motivation of any athlete.  Issac said he and his teammates are “just trying to stay excited.”

Andersen said, “I have noticed some are struggling to maintain their drive.”

Lungren recalled hearing his coach say, “This year mentally is going to be difficult.”

Spectators add momentum to competition and influence the energy of competition. 

A Ball State University study on collegiate basketball players revealed, “Over 66% of the subjects confirm the presence of spectators enhanced performance. Forty-three percent supported the idea that playing on the home field increases athletic performance. Finally, the behaviors of the spectators have an impact on the performance of collegiate basketball players during competition. Seventy percent felt a hostile crowd would enhance their performance.”

Information on how to show your support to UCC athletes
Graphic by Savannah Peterson / The Mainstream

Another meta study evaluation revealed, “Spectators may directly influence a competitive outcome by affecting player performances. Supportive spectators may enhance a (home) player’s performance through social support, inadvertently harm a (home) player’s performance through social pressure, or intentionally harm a (visiting) player’s performance through conscious techniques of distraction.”

A 2014 study suggests the probability of winning a game increases by 13% for the home team.  Even the referees can be partial to the home team.  This may be an unintentional result of positive and negative reinforcement by the home crowd.

When asked how no spectators might change competition, Lungren pointed out these pros and cons. He said he would miss the home court energy but is not going to miss the pressure of the away crowds.

Athletes aren’t the only ones missing the opportunities crowds can bring.   “I had family that were looking forward to coming to see our games,” Andersen said.  To compensate, the UCC athletic department is broadcasting as many competitions as possible on their YouTube channel.  Andersen confirmed her family and supporters will be watching the broadcasts of her competitions.

“It would be great if competitions could be announced through the school,” Andersen said. “Then students could send encouraging messages to the athletes they know.”

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