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

Luke Bourland

[smartslider3 slider=82]


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.


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 or on Instagram @lukemcduff.