How the lack of fans is changing the psychology of sports

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Tell me what we know from a sports psychology research perspective about the impact that crowd noise can have on the game. So crowd noise has multiple influences influences number one, the athletes you know in terms of that sense of feeling like they're performing in front of others you know a sense of real expectation for success and motivation and confidence and positive emotions, and then for the coaches, the coaches are are really driven by that fan noise and and us you know the connotations around around the fans this unknown that the fans might produce in their training strategies and their. Skills and drills that they do, and then for the referees that are often involved in in the play and make big game decisions. The referees tend to be the ones that are most affected by the crowd in terms of what we call a home field advantage, and so it's suggested that the referees are really acting on on the level of the crowd noise and the extent to which the crowd is sort of supportive or or not of the plays. Of what's going on on the on the field or the court for example, there's some published work on the The fans being banned from Italy's top soccer league back in two, thousand, seven and Pettersen Lidbom and pricks have talked about the idea that not having the fans in the stands really did have an influence on on the referee it reduced the bias at the referees had by not having the fans in the stands. Yeah I mean. Katherine how do you think that this could potentially affect the players in the games with no fans booing at fouls or you know miss shots like is it possible that players might choke less? You know what I mean I'm thinking of a foul shot situation here or will be less motivated. What do you think? Yeah, you know it really is a a number of factors. So because athletes have their own individual zones that they perform at their best in. An athlete who who really really needs that crowd noise and that experience of that energy to perform may certainly have less energy less drive to be able to play at their best. The early sort of evidence is showing that in the Games in across all sports that the play is sort of less fancy there's more passes. There's less individuals that are sort of taking on their own strategy to dunk the ball or to shoot really, and then we also see that this protected bubble of an environment we may find is more conducive to some of these athletes who would otherwise. Be You know quite affected by the uncertainty of the crowd noise and and the fan you know being present. Yeah. So so what do you think about these attempts to mimic crowd noise like with Major League Baseball's doing piping you know crowd sounds into stadiums and trying to kind of sink the sounds up with what's happening in the game like do you think that piped in crowd noise can have the same effect as like in real life crowd making noise or is it just different because there are actually people in the stands making those noises you know what I'm saying? You know the the crowd noise itself is not. Statistically speaking is not the factor that influences. The you know the outcome of of anyone game but it what it is, is the the perception that that crowd noise is tied to a supportive fan base or the opponents team where you go out and you really want to win in front of an opposing team's fans, and so now when we have crowd noise is being played it sort of justice background noise it's not it's not a motivational noise but. It might be valuable to have some background noise because the players are also talking about how audit is to basically here each other's shoes on the court. Yeah. You can hear each other breathing and just the noises that are that are normally muffled by by the crowd noise are now right there on on the plane surface, and so some level of crowd noise might be valuable for background noise but overall without the physical presence of the fans it really isn't going to be an effective strategy to help players feel like the game is more quote unquote normal. Right, I mean, and then you know there's the pandemic itself right? Catherine I mean as well as. A lot of these players are black many are social justice advocates themselves like I can't imagine what it's like to perform with that much on you in very public lens. You know what? I mean exactly. The tip of the iceberg is them playing on the field or on the court or? On the ice but the reality is that the bottom of that iceberg is there is there life that they're managing and? Worries tied to Kovin as well as you know, their priorities that are tied to their advocacy around social justice. So those sort of social and mental and emotional factors are are also coming up play in influencing for sure the way that the athletes are are playing and concentrating the attention that they have for the variety of things that are going on in the world. Right right. Okay Catherine. So we have talked a lot about the negative impacts of these new conditions and I'm wondering from on a personal level if there's any part of the new reality of sports that you're actually enjoying like, I personally, really enjoy getting to hear high fidelity trash talk that would normally be covered up by crowd noise. You know what I'm saying. It is it is true. You know and I think the the focus of the sport itself allows you to really highlight the actual sport. So it doesn't feel like like an experience anymore it feels like you're honing in on the sport itself and there are certain positives that come from it in terms of you know I'm smiling just talking thinking about it because. The players feel real. You know the ways in which we're seeing them on the on the they're plane surfaces is certainly something that you tend to sort of see but not always, it's always part of the game but not a main focus, and so you feel quite connected to these players. Now because you know they really are the focus of of the sport. Without everything else that goes into the usual sport experience and I would say that certainly a benefit in addition to just so many fans who are so excited to just have the sport back you know and in whatever way looks just to be able to have something to focus on and and you know something to get behind and advocate for their for their teams and so there is some of that you know fandom that

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