Athletes During the Pandemic Are Learning What Fans Have Always Known – The Atlantic

Posted: May 21, 2020 at 2:43 pm


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Morgan continued: Its going to be about whos going to adapt the best. We always say: You want to have been there, done that, so many times before you ever are in the situation. So that you have thrown that winning touchdown in the Super Bowl thousands of times in your life before you ever try to do it. This is another opportunity to prepare [in that way] Then when they get to the moment when they actually have to perform, its going to give them a much better shot to perform successfully. That would be a really weird thing, to walk into [a ghost game] with no preparation. I mean, I cant imagine how empty it might feel.

Sports leagues making plans to return are using the Bundesliga, the Korea Baseball Organization, and the Chinese Professional Baseball League as models for best practices. Mugford told me hes been in contact with the KBO and other leagues to get a sense of how the logistics of hygiene and safety have been accounted for. Not very sexy stuff at all, he admitted. But the research helps to prepare the Blue Jays to act in accordance with the protocols that would allow games to resume, as outlined by the MLBwhich have reportedly been documented in a detailed, 67-page (and counting) proposal. However, as the granular provisions and safeguards are hammered out to bring the games back, the reality of ghost games on the other side of that bureaucracy persists. In that relative silencethe game performed without in-person spectatorslies sports existential reckoning, and perhaps an answer to LeBrons question. Can sports ever feel the way it used to without live crowds? Can athletes actually bring a stadium to life with their imagination?

In theory, yes, Michael Stuart said. While the sensory input from an empty gym will never reflect that of a raucous arena, a vivid, hyper-phantastic imagination can conjure fans and project a comforting image of support with at least some of the emotional resonance of the real thing. There is a very well-known connection between imagination and emotion, Stuart said. And emotions are one of, if not the most important, motivator in the human psyche. On Saturday, after their victory against Schalke, Dortmund players assembled in a row, staring at Westfalenstadions vacant south terracewhich, in another time, would have housed 25,000 screaming supportersand, as theyve always done, they applauded the efforts of what the soccer world has dubbed the Yellow Wall. It was a show of acknowledgment and appreciation for some of the biggest fans in sports, a ritual upheld even in a time of uncertainty. It was imagination at work.

That connection between imagination and emotion is a muscle that fans build their entire lives. And it reveals itself in different ways: as petty as engaging in greatest-of-all-time debates on Twitter, as sentimental as passing sports allegiances down to a loved one. Fandom is a sense of community held together by the power of collective imaginationthe feeling of belonging to a greater whole, even if the individuals have no physical or spatial relation. Now, as ghost games temporarily unravel the live stakes of athletic performance, athletes will have to develop that muscle themselves, to bring sports back to the shared, ruminative landscape it has always been.

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Athletes During the Pandemic Are Learning What Fans Have Always Known - The Atlantic

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May 21st, 2020 at 2:43 pm