Fans in New Brunswick appear to be pleased that sports are returning to action, albeit in a different capacity.
The most noticeable difference fans will discover when taking in pro sports these days is arguably the empty bleachers.
We’ve already seen a MLB manager and umpire argue, which is definitely not unheard of, but putting on a mask ahead of time is. And we’ve also seen Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director in the U.S., throw out the first pitch for the Washigton Nationals return to play.
Val Cormier, a sports fan in Moncton, acknowledges the empty stadiums give the games a different feel.
“It’s different,” he says. “(Leagues) can’t take a chance. The virus is still around.”
But from afar, it’s just nice to watch live games compared to reruns and old highlights, says local Bob MacPherson.
“I’m a hockey nut number one, baseball and other sports too, but mostly hockey was nice to see,” he says.
“I don’t know if (my) wife liked it — I mean, that’s all I did yesterday from about noon hour till about 3 a.m., so I haven’t got a response from that yet.”
Meanwhile for athletes, coaches and parents entering the Superior Propane Centre, they’re required to provide a name and phone number for potential COVID-19 contact tracing.
“It’s very different. We don’t have dressing rooms so we need to be prepared (dressed) before,” says high school hockey and ringette athlete Audrey Cormier.
“It’s really weird, we have like 10 minutes to put our skates on. But it’s fun to be back on the ice.”
Meanwhile, Roy Chineh has been coaching soccer for about 20 years, starting when he was in university. While it’s been months of uneasiness for many people, sports coming back “does give a sense of normalcy.”
“It’s great having the teams back, seeing the kids, having them out playing again, doing what they love,” he says.
“And also for me, as a coach, it’s also rewarding to do what I love as well. It’s been missed.”