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Playing through the Pandemic: CSU athletes compete before a distant crowd

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Although sports have returned to Moby Arena, as is the case with much of life lately, it has a very different atmosphere than the Moby of the past. As a photographer who primarily shoots sports, the changes in the arena are nothing short of glaring.

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Most commonplace and jarring across the wide world of sports during the COVID-19 pandemic is the lack of fans. Although I knew no fans would be in Moby prior to my first game back, it was still shocking to see Moby without the Madness or hear no one respond to announcer Patrick Krza’s famous “point” with the appropriate response of “Rams.”

Even more eerie is the presence of disembodied voices cheering piped in to help keep the atmosphere for the players. In addition to this, and much more of the new normal, is the appearance of masks on and off the court. Masks are worn by staff, players, referees, journalists and even some starting players. Most notably, outside hitter Kennedy Stanford wore a mask the entire match against the United States Air Force Academy.

Like much of life in the pandemic, it is easy to focus on the depressing and missing than what is still there. In a year as unpredictable as 2021, sports can offer stability that is lacking in an unstable world because at the end of the day, no matter the lack of fans, prevalence of masks or fake cheering, one thing remains constant: sports. Times change and fans leave, but in the end, there will always be players, a ball and a job to do. 

empty seats
Empty Seats due to COVID-19 precautions in Moby Arena on Feb. 4. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

Luke Bourland can be reached at photo@collegian.com or on Instagram @lukemcduff.

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About the Contributor
Luke Bourland
Luke Bourland, Photo Director
Luke Bourland is a history major from Durham, Connecticut. Bourland is studying history in hopes of going to law school in the fall 2022 semester after graduation. In terms of which law school Bourland wants to go to, he likes to joke, "I will attend anywhere that'll have me!" Bourland has been taking pictures recreationally for most of his life but did not officially join The Collegian until the beginning of his sophomore year in 2019. Bourland originally joined The Collegian to develop his skills and to photograph out of his comfort zone. During his time at The Collegian, Bourland has held positions such as freelance photographer, media archivist, assistant photo editor, photo editor and finally, photo director. As the photo director, it is Bourland's job to make sure the paper is accompanied with beautiful pictures alongside the photo editor. Bourland has photographed events ranging from speeches and galas to football and basketball games. In his free time, Bourland is an avid golfer, fly-fisherman and still loves to take pictures recreationally. Differing from the style of photography at The Collegian, Bourland enjoys slowing down and shooting landscapes and portraits on film. Bourland first learned how to develop film with a friend in the bathrooms of Corbett Hall, stuffing towels under the doors to avoid any light leaking in. No matter where life takes Bourland, he hopes that photography will always be there along the ride.  

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