The waiting game has become a sport in itself during the pandemic but there are reasons to be hopeful for the return of spectator action in 2021.
The vaccine rollout in the UK – slowly but surely securing the welfare of the population – feels like a daily countdown to a green light for the resumption of entertainment, including live sport with crowds allowed. A move when appropriate that will be welcomed by all. To whet the appetite here are six reasons to savour the return of the spectator experience.
1. Sporting sensory showdown. There’s nothing filtered about sport in the flesh. Sight, sound, smell, touch and taste: every fibre of your being at full alert. It might be warm and cosy – and easy on the travelling – watching from the vantage point of a sofa. But it’s a diluted experience when compared to the ‘absolute reality’ of being in a stadium as the curtain goes up. As to be almost something else entirely. Whatever takes your fancy: but ours is a sensory overload every time.
2. Anticipation. Sometimes the journey is better than reaching the destination. Sport doesn’t offer up the certainty your favourite team or athlete will win. The deal is you dream of what may be – seeing in your mind’s eye a glorious victory and celebrations to follow – only to watch powerless as the day dawns. The wrong result? There’s always a next time. The right result? Bang for your buck.
3. Atmosphere. From the oohs and aahs of Wimbledon and quiet murmurings on the first morning of a Test Match at Lord’s, to the raucous roar of engines at Ashfield Stadium and the famous Hampden Roar: there are atmospheres to suit every taste. An intangible but essential part of the live experience. Greatest ever at a UK sporting event in the last 50 years? A debate for another time: but for now let’s just throw in 4 August 2012 – aka Super Saturday – at London 2012. In the Olympic Stadium. The noise, the relief, the joy of three Team GB gold medals in 45 mind-boggling minutes – for anyone lucky enough to be there they will never forget it.
4. Shared experience. Being part of a crowd pulling the same way is one of sports’ great attractions. Leave your status and troubles at the turnstiles, unite in a desire to enjoy the match and cheer on your team – is the unwritten rule. Simple. Win, lose or draw the easy familiarity of sport as a spectator event can bond strangers at will while providing the perfect environment to spend quality time with friends and family. What’s not to like?
5. Inspiring the NextGen. Thousands of youngers can’t wait to get back to their local sports club after lockdown. Not to mention others ready to try one for the first time. There is an amazing variety of choice available with over 100 sports formally recognised in the UK. Within these clubs are the next generation of stars who aspire to reach the top of their sport and entertain us. But as the saying goes: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Got a budding basketball or netball player in the family? Take them to a match!
6. ‘I Was There’. What do moments make? Memories. And what do memories make? Well unless you live all your time in the present (and for the time being that’s understandable given the track record of the recent past) there is something deeply rewarding about closing your eyes, lying back, and thinking of that day in sporting history when (insert as applicable) happened. And you just happened to be there to witness it in the flesh. An ‘I was there moment’. Got a favourite? Let us know – and here’s to many more.