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The Pandemic Has Diminished Part of Athletes’ Jobs: Signing Autographs

  • February 23, 2021

“You could already feel the impact on and off the pitch,” Sadio Mané, a winger for Liverpool, said in an email.

But the break in his previous game-day signing routine, Mané said, has not yielded benefits like improved concentration before matches. Mané, 28, said he missed interacting with fans.

“It’s a beautiful thing to help young fans, being able to connect their passion and education,” he said. “Being around fans is something that will hopefully be possible again this year. I will always be there and ready to sign autographs for our fans after the pandemic.”

This week, Major League Baseball ramps up its spring training, which includes about a month of tuneup games at small ballparks in Florida and Arizona. It’s fun, Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta said, because of closeness with fans.

Last year, only games in the later playoff rounds had fans in the stands. Spring training games will have limited attendance, but plans for the regular season haven’t been finalized.

“I was feeling a little down last season, because you play to put a good show for the fans,” Peralta, 33, said in a telephone interview. “And then when you look around, you have nothing. No one to throw a ball to between innings. No kids you can make smile with an autograph.”

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