Packed stadiums and energized crowds return to MSD after the authorization of fans to attend sporting events

The Rowdy Eagles never disappoint with their themes. The game against West Broward was Hawaiian theme.

Reece Gary, Sports editor

As the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States, schools throughout the nation were approached with the decision to limit capacity and transfer to an online-based format for the 2020-2021 school year. Along with the academic adjustments made to adhere to safety protocols, high school sports were forced to make changes as well.

Many sports, including men’s lacrosse and soccer, saw their seasons extremely shortened, as the spread of COVID-19 caused most, if not all, games to be canceled. There were some sports, however, that were able to escape the cancelation of their season due to the pandemic. Football, baseball and many of the women’s sports were prime examples of the ones to thrive.

However, being able to play a full season was an extreme privilege, and came at a large cost: fans. Stadiums, normally packed with cheering crowds, were limited in their available seats in order to, ultimately, limit the spread of COVID-19.

Fans were strongly suggested to remain at least six feet apart to maintain a social distance, which severely limited the amount of space available in the stands. Crowds were typically made up of families of athletes, with very few fans attending games for the sole purpose of cheering on the Eagles.

Eventually, this impediment to the Eagles’ spirit finally came to an end, as Broward County allowed for full capacity schools entering the 2021-2022 school year. This statement also allowed for stadiums to be filled to their normal amounts, which fans were very eager to see.

Fans attending games during the 2021-2022 school year are expected to follow similar rules to students during a regular school day, including the requirement of fans to wear a mask.

The news of the availability of full-capacity stadiums spread like wildfire, and fans across the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community planned to attend games, especially those for varsity football.

The first game for varsity football season, a preseason match against American Heritage Delray, showed just the tip of the iceberg for the preparedness and eagerness of Eagles’ fans. The preseason game, despite not counting towards the Eagles’ season standings, was nearly filled with cheering fans.

“We have great fans, a great atmosphere, and a great band,” junior Angelo Amante said. “It’s overall a really great experience. Also, I get to hang out with friends, and it’s always fun to watch our team play.”

The full potential of MSD fans was shown at the regular-season opener at Cumber Stadium against Cooper City. The bleachers were overflowing with Eagle fanatics, athletes’ families, fans of the opposing team and the Eagle Regiment band. Along with the countless fans in the bleachers, the MSD cheer team ran across the Eagles’ sideline to get the crowd rowdy.

MSD spirit had finally returned to Cumber Stadium in a large fashion, and there was no sight of slowing down.

“It’s exhilarating,” tight end and defensive end Tucker Jean (62) said. “The fans, band, and teammates beside me makeup the overall atmosphere. Being able to play for my school team, knowing the whole school is there to watch, is truly a feeling like no other.”

The following home game, in which the Eagles played against West Broward on Sept. 10, introduced the first theme for fan attire, courtesy of the Rowdy Eagles: Hawaii. Fans, particularly MSD students, swarmed the bleachers of Cumber Stadium dressed in leis, Hawaiian-themed shirts and tropical outfits.

During the game, fans in the student section flew streamers to add to the vibrant colors of the mass, and the crowd roared with each play that led to an Eagles lead.

The energy that radiated off of the Eagles’ fans clearly contributed to the lively atmosphere and the momentum possessed by the football team. With every catch, rush, sack, interception and touchdown in favor of the Eagles, the fans got louder and the players were equally as energetic.

“The support of the fans affects the team’s performance, builds the adrenaline in the players, and makes the game a lot more fun,” Jean said.

This spirit was carried over into the games following, including the Homecoming game on Sept. 17 in which MSD faced the Deerfield Beach Bucks.

With Deerfield being one of the Eagles’ toughest competitors of the season and the game being a part of Homecoming weekend, the stadium was completely filled with fans, leaving many to stand seatless throughout the game’s entirety.

Eagles Football fans were eruptive and lively, ultimately showing their MSD pride despite the overcrowded situation. This showcase of the spirit of MSD fans was consistent throughout every game, and is a clear depiction of the fans’ eagerness to show up for any sporting event.

Fans of the Eagles, although being most prominent at varsity football games, are just as supportive at other MSD fall sports as well, including volleyball, cross country and JV football. Additionally, many fans are already looking towards rooting on the Eagles in sports events later in the year, especially at games for basketball, baseball, lacrosse and soccer.

The vivacious spirit of MSD fans is just as present as ever, and any stadium, field or arena in which an MSD sports team plays is sure to be filled with devoted fans until the time approaches where they must be forced to miss it once again.