Front Row: Life inside the bubble

In this column's edition, columnist Ajay Atkinson tackles the disappointment athletes feel without a crowd supporting them. (Submitted: Ajay Atkinson)

The cheers, the jeers, the chants and the celebrations. Scenes of emotions escalating with every passing play, a bit of flair and every inch of success. This is the kind of atmosphere athletes live for. However, life inside the bubble is everything but the justified reactions of fans seated in the crowd.

The pandemic brought the need for changes in society. The world of sports was not exempted from these changes. Athletes have had to relinquish the highs and lows of playing live for their passionate fans to limit the spread of COVID.

Athletes practice incessantly for the opportunity to prove themselves through their performance as a means of entertaining the crowd. This is their biggest challenge.

Some athletes feed off the energy of the crowd. Without the array of passion floating, athletes have to undergo a series of mental reincarnation. They can no longer feed off the cheers and enthusiasm of the fans. Instead, they are challenged to dig deep within themselves and exert that passion knowing the fans are at home watching.

It’s almost the same feeling as running a race by yourself. In order to deliver sports to millions of homes and hearts across the world, these athletes are subjected to living inside a bubble. Life inside the bubble can be as mentality demanding as playing the game itself without having the fans. It is like being trapped inside a prison, as their freedom is limited.  While many of these players live rich lifestyles, they are away from family and friends in order to keep themselves isolated and safe amidst the pandemic, as well as lower quality food and living in hotel rooms.

Many of the professional athletes have taken significant pay cuts in order to continue entertaining fans. This is because there is no revenue from ticket sales due to COVID-19 and clubs have had to make the gruesome decision of firing the majority of their staff due to a decline in revenue.

Athletes have always been seen as heroes by sports enthusiasts. They are role models and motivators not only because of their talent, but also because of the sacrifices and struggles they have had to endure to harness their talent.

The pandemic provides athletes with the platform to tap into their mental strength and courage. This led to athletes taking the initiative to risk their lives amidst a global pandemic to provide entertainment in homes across the globe. These athletes should be saluted for their bravery and courage in giving back to the millions of supporters, despite many people believing that all sports should have been suspended until the virus was under immense control.

Despite being trapped inside their own minds and a bubble, these athletes refuse to cage their passion, even amidst this pandemic. The stadiums might be empty, but the hearts of supporters have been filled.