Missing the hype

How Cherry Creek High School football players are feeling the difference in excitement and pressure with the lack of student fans

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Hannah Edelheit

It’s nothing like it used to be. With new COVID-19 restrictions at football games, the players are seeing a change in the atmosphere. “We kind of hype ourselves up instead of having the fans there and other noises to kind of help us get ready for the game,” sophomore, varsity football player Blake Purchase said.

Madison Seckman, Design Editor

It’s the start of the first football game of the season. The players walk onto the field expecting the same energy the student fans never fail to bring. This year, however, those student fans are replaced by limited numbers of family and close friends.

According to the CCSD athletics department, there are “no walk up door ticket sales” this year. Fans are also required to wear face masks to the game. 

Varsity football players were allowed three tickets per player for anyone whom they wanted to invite, – recently that number has gone down to two – and JV football players are allowed two. 

Since families are really the only attendees, football players have noticed a decrease in casual conversations about their games with their classmates.  Players were used to having classmates tell them about the fun they had at the game. Now, the students don’t even bring them up. Not being able to experience the wins in person with friends has caused students to pay a lot less attention to the football season.

“[Students] can’t go, so they don’t really care as much,” senior, varsity player Craig Ballinger said.

Even though anyone can watch the games over the Cherry Creek Sports Network (CCSN), students are far less involved. 

The views on CCSN have gone up a lot this year, but a lot of those are from the football players’ family members who watch because it’s convenient and safe. So, the students are having a lot less exposure to the games. Lacking involvement from the fans, the football environment has some guaranteed changes. 

“The fans give you that excitement with chants and stuff like that, or the school spirit that kind of changes the environment to where it’s a little more fun,” Ballinger said. “You feel like it’s what you want – a high school classic, Friday Night Lights.”

High school football players are missing a huge part of their playing experience. They don’t have the usual high energy cheering from their classmates; the hype is missing.

“There’s a lot of energy from the crowd when you’re on the field,” sophomore, varsity player Blake Purchase said. “The student section is screaming, your parents are screaming, and it’s just this great feeling – you feel kind of invincible.” 

“It’s one of the best things you could have as a football player,” Purchase said.

Now that the fans are diminished, the feeling of being on the best high school football team in the state of Colorado is, too. Having parents there is great, but the parents have been there since the players were little. The students are a new factor that make the game feel bigger and more goal oriented; they’re gone and so is the feeling.

“It’s almost like a club team, instead of an actual high school football team,” Purchase said.

Purchase isn’t the only player who feels like a part of the game is lost when the fans are gone.

“We’re playing teams, but there’s not really a crowd. It’s kind of like just a normal scrimmage compared to like a game,”  senior, varsity player Tyler Dvorak said.

The games feel different, and in some ways, that’s a good thing.

“I know the crowd energy would kind of get me going even more, but at the same time, like not having them there kind of helps me relax and focus on what I need to do on the field,” Dvorak said.

The crowd brings excitement and pressure, so it’s a lot more easy going this year – there are less expectations for the players to achieve. When students are at the games, that means more eyes are watching. It can create a stressful environment because the players want to perform well in front of them. 

“[There’s] kind of less pressure, just like a lot less people there,” Dvorak said. “So I don’t feel like if I make a mistake, everyone’s gonna see it or something. It’s just like, the pressure’s there all the time, it’s just from teammates and coaches. It’s definitely different.”

While the players miss the excitement from the crowd, they’re very grateful to just be playing the game.

“I still enjoy playing games,” Balinger said. “It’s all a great experience, and I’m excited for playoffs.”

No spectators will be allowed at the state football championship games in Pueblo. The coronavirus risk is high, and Pueblo is taking extra precautions for safety. Read more here: CDPHE announces new restrictions to championship football games