I have a feeling engraved in my mind, something that I will hardly experience outside of sports. Being in competition and seeing my skin crawl when I hear my name chanted by a crowd. The covid-19 pandemic has made us lose many things, we have all felt affected in one way or another. The connection with the fan has been one of the great losses for the athlete.
Concepts that seemed distant have become part of our day to day. Curfews, quarantines, restrictions… We have all been immersed in a new reality and sport has not escaped from it. Thanks to vaccination we seem to be closer to a lifestyle similar to what we were used to having.
Something that sports fans, myself included, missed was being able to attend championships at the stadium. Bringing that warmth to the athletes, accompanying the athlete at the moment of maximum tension, all the previous ceremony between friends and acquaintances that the fans enjoy around the game. There is nothing like living sports live, and we had lost that reality.
Personally, I have longed for the League for all this time. In an exceptional situation, I think we are going to feel this championship as something unusual. Without Leo Messi and Sergio Ramos, recent captains and banners of Barça and Real Madrid for more than 10 years, it will be rare to enjoy the championship without their moments of prominence.
The beauty of sport is that it will always have the warmth of the fans. The return of the fans to the stands, even with limited capacity, has allowed us to see beautiful images. Those faces of emotion of the one who returns to a place from which he never wanted to leave. It’s a heartfelt comeback, and we see it in the tears of so many. Souls and throats given to the unconditional support of some colors.
I can’t get the images seen in Seville out of my head in recent days. A passionate audience, singing a cappella the anthem of their teams. The message seemed clear: although the seats were empty for months, the affection of the followers has been daily. It has been one of the most exciting things that has been seen in this start of the championship.
On the first day of the League, Sevilla left us all stunned. The entire audience chanting the team anthem. Living a game at Sánchez Pizjuán never disappoints. I recommend it to anyone who has never visited it. As an athlete, my heart sinks to see such a sincere passion, that feeling of community for a sports group. The lyrics are beautiful, the feeling of the Sevilla fans is unique and the support is constant throughout the game. What a joy to have it back.
The passion for Betis on the second day was no wonder. Few plans are better than seeing your team on a Friday night in the middle of summer. That communion under the heat, with those nights reminiscent of childhood, makes parties unique. It was something that the players surely missed and the fans fully complied.
The return of the public to the stands also served to see details in the other direction. Several were the teams that had kind gestures with their fans, with their own players and of the latter with the fans. A team is made up of the one who shouts from the stands, the one who suffers from the side and the one who pushes the ball into the net.
We recover moments of great human closeness. There were honors by Olympic medalists, recognition for recent successes, such as the one shown to the winners of the Copa América or the last League, as was the case with Atlético and also, after their promotion, Espanyol.
Football became football again. I hope and wish that the public regains that passion to enjoy, applaud and cheer. May that encouragement that the athlete needs so much once again be the background environment in each match.
I’m really looking forward to getting that feeling back in tennis. In the US Open that we begin in just a few hours we will be able to enjoy with 100% of the capacity. It will be my professional farewell and welcome to something we always took for granted. The company of the people who most value our work.
I’m looking forward to crossing the threshold of a track and meeting again what I always enjoyed: players and the public united by the excitement of the points. Enjoying the sport all together.
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