DORSET — Surprisingly, having no fans in attendance during sporting events throughout the state has felt more normal than I anticipated at times.
Then there are other points where it feels extremely bizarre. I noticed one of those moments during Friday’s girls basketball matchup between host Long Trail and visiting West Rutland.
It was the fourth quarter and West Rutland was well on its way to another victory, ahead by 18.
Long Trail’s Charleigh Tifft drove into the paint, put up a layup and was fouled with three minutes and 35 seconds to play.
Free throws are by design a break in the play. In a normal situation — with Long Trail being the home team anyways — the fans would stay relatively quiet to allow the player to focus on their shots. There’s always some sort of background noise though. Not this year.
I’ve never heard a gym so quiet as I did during those shots. I understand the no fans, and I’ve been in gyms a good amount over the last two months since the governor has allowed practices to begin. It’s been quiet, but not like this.
Maybe it was because I was on the baseline trying to snag a photo of Tifft as she was at the line. My camera sounded thunderous in the fanless gymnasium.
It quickly brought me back to the oddity that is the sports world during the pandemic.
The same, but different
MANCHESTER — Having no spectators is weird, but the players have done a nice job since the beginning of the season on February 12 to make it feel like there’s a lot of people in the gym.
This was really evident last week during the rivalry matchup between Mount Anthony and Burr and Burton on Monday for the boys game at E.H. Henry Gym.
Counting everyone in the gym — players, coaches, referees, school personnel, etc. — there were probably 50 or so people in the gym that Monday afternoon. But the kids more than made up for the lack of fans ... cheering throughout, hyping up their team, stomping their feet, making tons of noise.
It made it feel like normal, if only for a couple of hours, in the middle of this pandemic.
A silver lining?
If there is a silver lining to local sports during this pandemic, it’s the fact that I can watch them practically anywhere I have a connection. On Friday night, we had four local teams playing — Mount Anthony, Burr and Burton, Arlington and Long Trail girls basketball, three of them away from home. But with schools taking advantage of the technology and live-streaming events — through a school website, YouTube, or even Facebook Live — people can watch from anywhere.
I checked out the Mount Anthony game thanks to the Otter Valley Union School District’s Facebook Live. I watched a few minutes of the Long Trail game against West Rutland thanks to a link on the team’s athletics page.
I love it and I hope teams and schools will continue to live stream games even after the pandemic is over — not so much for me, but for all the family members near and far who want to watch their kids play the games they love.