Pro Sports Teams Try to Create Atmosphere of Normal Season


Fans are a large part of professional sports today, but due to the current pandemic, massive gatherings are prohibited. As professional sports have resumed playing, leagues have had to get creative in ways to interact with fans across the country. 

Opening day for the MLB was July 23. Every team belongs to a predetermined region where they will play 60 games, each against other teams within the same region. The postseason began in late September and the 2020 season will end Oct. 31. 

While fans are prohibited to attend any regular or post-season games, some leagues have offered fans the option to pay a certain amount of money to have their picture cutout in the stands at the games. The cost of cutouts varies depending on where you would like your cutout placed. Besides cutouts, the MLB is using artificial sound effects and recordings during games to simulate crowd noise. The Washington Nationals are using a recording from their 2019 postseason as background noise at games during the 2020 season. 

“Artificial crowd noises are great because you forget about the absence of fans, creating a real life experience,” junior Drew Roane said.

The MLB is also implementing a live game analysis from the players point of view to enhance fans’ watching experience. Certain players will have a microphone attached to their jerseys and will be asked a series of questions from announcers, whether it is the shortstop analyzing the defensive side of the game or the pitcher processing the last inning.

As for the NHL, they finished their 2020 regular season earlier this year and began the playoffs in August in Canada. Qualifiers began on Aug. 1. Each player is in a bubble and is not allowed to see anyone outside of their current bubble. 

Playoffs began Aug. 11 and ended Sep. 28. The NHL has not been using cutouts of fans, but instead has been using LED screens to show fans, team’s goal songs, and crowd noise recordings from previous games. The NHL is also using 32 total cameras instead of 20 to provide more angles for TV viewers. 

The news of no fans permitted at professional games is mortifying for numerous sports fans nonetheless various fans are enjoying the effort being made by professional teams to include at-home viewers. 

“I feel that is a great way to interact with fans during the pandemic because it allows both sides of the community to stay interested,” said junior Maya Brichacek. 

The NBA began in mid-August and ended Oct. 11. Banners of fans and various crowd noises have been used to simulate the sounds of the game. The NBA has also used a 17-foot LED screen to show fans virtually in the stands. To be included fans must sign up for a raffle to be broadcasted on the LED screen. 

 As for the NFL, the 2020-2021 season began Sept. 10 and plans to end Jan. 3, 2021. 

The NFL is following basic COVID-19 guidelines so the bulk of fans will not be allowed to enter any given stadium, except for a couple of teams allowing a low number of fans in the audience. The NFL is using artificial crowd noises as well to fill the silence during this season. 

“Nothing beats the crowd and the electricity of the fans in the stadium, but it’s still something,” health teacher Katherine Gross said.