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OUR VIEW: Return of fans made college football feel different this weekend

The COVID-19 pandemic took a lot of things away from us that we never thought we’d be without. Things we took for granted.

This weekend “real” college football returned for the first time since the pandemic started, and it was therapeutic for sports fans.

Yes, college football was played last year, but it was in front of small crowds — or no crowds — and there was little to no environment. It was a sad, but necessary, reality for the sport as the virus raged through our country.

Throughout the weekend, crowds brought back energy to the games and reminded us realize just how impactful fans are on football games.

Let us be clear: We’re not condoning sitting shoulder to shoulder with 90,000 people in the middle of a pandemic. But many did all across the country, and it brought back an energy that we all missed a lot.

From Camp Randall in Wisconsin, to Tallahassee to Charlotte to Blacksburg, fans impacted games all across the country and made television viewing incredible.

Football reigns supreme in the South, but it was clear that so many people missed the feeling of a big crowd and a raucous environment.

Yes, it’s probably too soon. Yes, it’s a very risky decision. Yes, it could and probably will continue the spread of the Delta variant.

It’s clear many people weighed the risk analysis before the weekend and determined being back at a packed stadium was worth it, and that happened all across the country.

And for better or worse, it made for a great weekend of football, one that reminded just how impactful fans are on the pageantry of the game.