For nearly a year now, COVID-19 has ravaged its way across the U.S., cancelling event after event, and the world of sports is no exception to the changes brought on.
Loyal alumni, the always-proud student section and families of the players can now only watch the Maple Leafs play from a digital standpoint — online at goleafs.net or over the airwaves on 91.1 The Globe.
When the Goshen College spectator policy was first released, 100 seats were made available for spectators for indoor events, a number that fell to zero on Nov. 16 when the spectator policy was amended due to the high amount of confirmed cases throughout Elkhart County.
While fans in the stands is not a likelihood in the immediate future, there are a variety of county-wide stipulations that could be met over the next several months which would allow for spectators to make their return.
“The shift from limited fans to no fans corresponded with Elkhart County’s shift from orange to red on the [Indiana State Department of Health] map during the week beginning November 16, 2020,” GC’s Sports Information Director Tony Miller said. “But to paint with a broad brush, every indicator that gets better (number of cases, positivity rate, ICU bed availability) is a step toward the right direction, and every indicator that gets worse…is not.”
Plainly put, with the high number of cases still lingering around Elkhart County, there’s an air of uncertainty hanging over the spectator policy, and the athletic department struggles to provide clear answers because there simply are none.
“I think asking whether we’ll have fans back is analogous to asking now whether it’s going to rain on a specific date in April or May,” Miller said. “We can look at the trends, but there’s no way to know exactly what the atmosphere is going to be like when we’re three and a half months out.”
Despite the lack of clarity, Goshen College athletes like TaNiece Chapman aren’t letting their play be held back by the missing sixth-man.
“Honestly, at first I [felt] like we were impacted negatively by the lack of fans, but it made us step up and bring more energy as a team and celebrate everything positive,” Chapman said.
Women’s head coach Stephanie Miller echoed Chapman’s sentiment in a statement more geared towards the future. “For the long term, I hate not having [fans] and I think that the fans play such a special role in the relationship of the game.”