Without crowds in the stands, football adapts and so do the fans

Limited attendance at Shoreline Stadium means many fans cheer on the team from home via livestreaming


by Jersey Patterson

People in the stands at one of the football games

by Trevor Cook, Reporter

When football season started back up, many longed for Shorewood’s faithful fans to pack the stands of Shoreline Stadium decked out in green and blue to cheer on the T-Birds every Friday night. With COVID-19, it clearly isn’t safe for large crowds to attend Shorewood football games yet.

The solution for loyal T-Bird fans: livestreaming the games on the Shoreline Athletics YouTube channel. 

While limited numbers of fans can attend the games and cheer on the T-Birds live, this gave fans the opportunity for all to enjoy the games from home.

But what do the fans think of this? 

Senior Mia Battle, one of Shorewood football’s biggest supporters, has continued her support by watching their livestreams this season since she can’t be there in person as in past years.

“I attended probably every single [game] if it was relatively close to where I lived. But if it was a home game, rain or shine, I was always there,” Battle said of her commitment to attending games in past years. 

For someone who used to cheer on Shorewood iin every game, it’s a different experience watching from home. 

“It’s not as up-beat and fun to watch,” Battle said. “Of course, I love watching sports and one of the best things about it is being able to scream and chant.” She added: “When you are watching the streams, you don’t get the same vibes as if you were actually there. You just sit at home and aren’t really involved.” 

Of course, the livestreams aren’t quite the same as being at the game in person, but the games are still broadcast in good quality and you don’t have to worry about the weather from the comfort of your home. 

The first football game of the season can be found on the Shoreline Athletics channel, but not any of the others. Apparently, the livestreams aren’t that easy to find. Battle added, “I have to ask players individually for the livestream link depending on if it’s a home game or not, which makes it sort of inconvenient but it usually works out.” On top of that, the scoreboard isn’t always showing and sometimes the camera doesn’t capture all of the action, so there is room for improvement in this system.

In addition, the game is more quiet with the lack of a crowd due to COVID restrictions. Shoreline Stadium has capacity for about 700 including players, coaches, and other staff, according to Athletic Director Joann Fukuma.  Fans are one of the biggest parts of sports. They bring a lot of energy and intensity to games, and some players say that sports don’t quite feel the same without them

Senior Tom Bert, in his last season with Shorewood football, has noticed the difference between games played with full stands and this new situation with only limited numbers. 

“No fans is definitely a bummer. The stadium can get eerily quiet at times,” Bert said. Having nobody to cheer you on can be rough on team morale with no crowd to scream and applaud after a great play. Bert adds: “It has definitely taken away from the excitement of playing in front of family and friends and has shaped up to being a totally different experience of football.”

Because fans bring so much energy to the games, what is it like playing in an empty stadium? 

“I haven’t really noticed its effect on the game itself as during pregame there is still all the nervousness as before,” Bert said. Even with the restrictions and adjustments, Bert is excited about this season.  “It’s like passing the torch as seniors graduate and the underclassmen take over. The performance of the team doesn’t really matter too much to me as I care more about how much effort we are able to give during each game regardless of the outcome,” said Bert, who graduates in just over two months. 

Coach Brandon Torrey agrees that not having fans present is tough but is thankful to have a season albeit different from any season before. 

“It’s a bummer we don’t have fans, but I’m grateful we get a chance to play,” Torrey said. “I do not think it affects the performance of our team. Our focus is on what we can control.”

While having no fans may be a weird feeling, Torrey and his players are confident that it won’t affect them during the games. The lack of fans isn’t the biggest setback this season, with COVID restrictions shaking up not just football, but all Shorewood sports.

“Sports has the potential of bringing people and a community together. On game nights we all represent one team, school, and community trying to achieve victory together,” Torrey said. 

Still, the team has faced some adversity with COVID restrictions including the amount of time to practice before the first game. In addition, players have to wear face masks and mouth guards while playing. “It’s tough for the players but they haven’t complained at all,” Torrey said. 

Shorewood football wraps up the season Thursday, April 1 with the Rotary Cup game against Shorecrest at Shoreline Stadium. Game starts at 6 p.m. All performance teams plus drumline will be there. In addition, 100 students who signed up in advance via a google form will be there too to cheer on the T-Birds. You can find the livestream on the Shoreline Athletics YouTube channel.