As Australian sporting fans continue to endure Covid-19 lockdowns, a viral video of a football stadium in the US packed with spectators has shown exactly what we’re missing out on.
With Australia’s domestic football and competitions tiptoeing their way around the country in biosecure bubbles and games often being held in front of no crowd at all, Aussie fanatics are desperate to get back to attending live sporting events.
Fans around the world were left stunned at footage of the capacity crowd at the American football college game between Virginia Tech University and the University of North Carolina on Saturday (AEST).
Last year’s college football season was heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in the US and crowds were either significantly reduced or banned altogether as the country dealt with rising case numbers. Even the popular tailgating gatherings were not allowed by several colleges.
But with the new college football season getting underway this week, full capacity crowds have been permitted for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Virginia Tech’s fans made the most of the chance and came out in force to support their team in the first home game of the season, sparking wild scenes at Lane Stadium.
The arena has a capacity of 66,000 and it’s safe to say every square metre of the grandstands was full and absolutely rocking.
In wild scenes usually only seen in movies, swathes of local fans decked out in orange were jumping up and down like crazy, cheering on the Hokies.
Both teams ran out onto the field with Metallica’s hit song “Enter Sandman” blaring through the Stadium’s sound system, adding to the electric atmosphere.
The insane crowd must have helped as well, since Virginia claimed an upset win over North Caroline 17-10.
Footage of the raucous crowd quickly went viral on social media and was shared by many Australian athletes and fans lamenting the fact such huge crowds are not impossible here.
Richmond Tigers coach Damien Hardwick tweeted: “Can’t wait to get the Tiger Army Back in 2022”, while retired Australian fast bowler Chadd Sayers described the vision as “spine-tingling”.
“This has been on my bucket list for a while, for obvious reasons,” cricket journalist Melinda Farrell wrote.
“Looking forward to the day when travel becomes easier.”
NRL.com senior reporter Brad Walter added: “If you miss the atmosphere of big events and being part of a heaving mass of humanity, this has to be our ambition for the start of next season.”
However, Australian basketball great Andrew Bogut was skeptical of the huge crowd, pointing out the US state of Virginia continues to record very high numbers of Covid-19 cases.
Interestingly, fans at the football game were required to wear masks in Lane Stadium but not at their seats.
The scenes are a far cry from crowds are allowed at sporting events in Australia at the moment.
Fans are allowed to attend matches in Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Tasmania, but crowds are not possible in NSW and Victoria as those states deal with the outbreak and rising case numbers.
This year’s Australian F1 Grand Prix was cancelled, while both the AFL and NRL grand finals have been moved from their usual venues due to the Covid-19 outbreaks in Sydney in Melbourne.
AFL viewers were bemused by the sight of the goalposts at Optus Stadium in Perth being sprayed with disinfectant after Friday night’s AFL semi-final between Geelong and GWS.