Student fans return to stands

McLean lifts its family-only fans policy after three weeks


Aleena Gul

Parents fill the stands at the girls varsity basketball game against Yorktown.

After temporarily closing its doors to general admission to protect students’ health, the McLean Athletics department has lifted the no-fans guideline. The policy was in place from Jan. 10 to 28, marking three weeks of sports activities with the absence of cheering students and a bustling atmosphere that McLean students know and love.

One of McLean’s biggest sports, basketball, was especially impacted by the rule, which the school enacted after a large surge in COVID-19 cases around winter break. Only team member’s families were permitted to attend games during the restriction.

“The gym has been pretty dead,” said Isaac Bell, sophomore on the varsity boys basketball team. “Having my family there is great, but I miss the energy that all the students bring to the games.”

McLean’s first Langley game on Dec. 17, open to general admission, became a source of controversy as cases rose before winter break and contact tracing became more aggressive. However, McLean’s second game against the crosstown rival on Jan. 25 was closed to the general admission, which drew contention from disappointed fans.

“The Langley game, we played very well, but there were no fans to hype us up,” Bell said. “We could have really used the encouragement [from the stands].”

Fans who had attended previous events also noted a less intense crown, as many were accustomed to the lively dynamic at intense school sports games.

“There definitely felt like there was something missing, [such as] the school spirit element,” said chemistry teacher Austin Blackford, an avid supporter of McLean’s sports teams.

During the week of Jan. 31- Feb. 4, all of McLean’s basketball teams are set to play their first games with fans since late December.

“[Having fans] means kind of a [return] to normalcy,” girls varsity basketball player Ally Hodder said. “It’s exciting just to have a bit more of the camaraderie around our team and to be cheered on.”

Players, too, hope that most fans have been building up excitement for the final games of the winter season.

“I’m excited to return to the stands this week because I know they missed me,” said sophomore Amelia Lupi-Sher. “I’m a really loud person so I like going in the stands and just screaming my heart out. I think I really do make an impact.”