When I think about playing sports in stadiums without fans, it reminds me of my story about two flowers. That’s because the players need fans -- and the spotlight -- in order to truly shine.
I don’t think any pro athlete wants to hear crickets after he smashes a home run or snags a touchdown pass. Competitors generally thrive off the roar of the crowd.
Which brings me to my flower story. Perhaps a little known fact about me is I enjoy doing yard work and love planting flowers. Marigolds, impatiens and geraniums are among my favorites.
A few years back, I planted some marigolds in my front yard by the porch and I planted others to the side of the house. The flowers received a long burst of afternoon sun in both locations.
The marigolds by the front porch were part of the centerpiece. They were very visible as soon as you walked out the door and received plenty of attention. By July, they had grown thick and bushy and really added a nice burst to the overall landscaping.
I couldn’t say the same about the marigolds off to the side. They received regular water just like the ones by the front porch and the same amount of sunlight, best I could tell, but they never gained much in the growth department. Instead of thriving, they struggled.
I’m sure any master gardener would point to slight differences in the soil or the light as the reasons the flowers blossomed by the front porch, but faded on the side. That had to be the reason, right?
There’s also the theory that the flowers off to the side didn’t flourish because they were more of an afterthought. They weren’t on the main stage so to speak. They were relegated to sideshow status away from all the attention the front door brings. They were secondary.
This all may be crazy talk, but I think pro athletes are the same way. Attention isn’t optional for them to flourish. It is required.
No one, especially a pro athlete, wants to drain a 3-pointer at the buzzer and be greeted by the echo of empty seats. It’s not how they’re wired.
The fans and the players have a symbiotic relationship. They thrive off each other.
Sports, should they be played without fans in empty arenas, would certainly be odd. The games would not be as exciting or as meaningful, for spectators or the athletes themselves.
Fans never take a shot or make a tackle, but they are still a crucial part of the game. Players always like to say they play for the fans, so it begs the question what would they playing for if there are no fans in the stands?