The Fan in the Arena

It’s no secret that the last 12 months have been anything but ordinary. I could probably write this entire editorial on that alone. But as we approach the dawn of a new day with vaccination rates increasing across the country and light peeking at the end of the tunnel, now appears to be the time we’ve all been waiting for–where the things that we love start returning to their pre- pandemic form. (Yes, sports, I am talking to you.)

One of America’s favorite pastimes has been one of the industries most severely impacted by COVID-19, and now with fans finally starting to return to arenas across the country, we can get back to the crazy wide world of sports that we all know and love. For me, growing up as a die hard Knicks fan, there was no scene more breathtaking than walking down the stairs leading to the lower bowl of Madison Square Garden. The feeling was intoxicating, and I remember my 10-year-old-self taking in the sights for the first time like it was yesterday: the soft pound of leather on the hardwood, the smell of popcorn and anticipation filling the air as the “World’s Most Famous Arena” welcomed in loyal fans wearing orange and blue.

As a sports fanatic and athlete, a world without fans would’ve seemed unfathomable to even imagine just a little over a year ago. Fans are what drive you that extra mile on the field knowing that you’ve got your whole community behind you, what make you excited as you knew the school day was ending and you had a train to catch to Penn Station at 4 p.m., and what make some of the best moments of our young lives so unforgettable.

Sports is a world unlike any other–offering an escape from your troubles and stresses of daily life and proposing a world of excitement, teamwork and passion all in one. It’s something that offers more than just a box score. Sports is a place where people can come together–players, fans and families alike–and bond over a common goal, a common interest, a common happy place. I believe that that’s what we all noticed the most over this past year, with cardboard cutouts in attendance at your favorite major league ballpark.

No matter what side of the fence you’re on, whether you think that the Brooklyn Nets are taking it all this year with the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving leading the way, or you think the New York Knicks are finally back in playoff condition (and I hope they are), it’s good to see the electricity finally come back to a place that feels so desolate without it. Soon enough, Campus Field will be filled and roaring again with a sea of red crowding the bleachers and “PIOOOONEERSSS” being sang over the microphone. Those are they days I’ll be waiting on.

Unlike Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech “The Man in the Arena,” I think that maybe the critic counts just a little more than we thought. Now in 2021, it feels so good to finally see that part of the beautiful world of sports slowly start to come out of hibernation.

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