A lot of people are talking now about the pros and cons of having sporting events without fans in the arenas or stadiums. And with good reason, because it seems that’s the only way live events can resume anytime soon.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they will have trouble watching the games on television without the crowds being a part of the broadcast.
I sympathize with the people who are deprived of a chance to actually be there, witnessing the games live. That stinks. But the telecasts are a different story. They will be just fine -- maybe even better in some cases -- without the crowds.
The pleasure of watching a football game on TV without the constant camera shots of face-painted adults, proudly adorned in player jerseys that don’t fit, will be unsurpassed. Nor will I miss camera shots of fans waving at a camera during basketball games while someone is stealing a pass or making a shot. The game action is often too quick for the camera view of yet another kid at a college game waving a “Hi mom, send money” sign.
I noticed many years ago that when I go to games, I seldom pay much attention to other spectators while the game is underway. Why would I want my TV screen to do that?
A little artificial fan noise in the background for atmosphere? Sure, I can deal with that. As long as it doesn’t overpower the announcers.
And without crowd noise, I’m hoping microphones can be placed close enough to the action to pick up coaches and players communicating during the game. I will take that over random crowd chants, prompted by overly loud public address systems.
Baseball, in fact, would profit a lot from putting mics on players during games. It would set the game apart from any other sport if players actually communicated with announcers during the action -- as they did during some spring training games this year.
For sports, this is a big opportunity. For TV, too. It’s a chance to re-imagine their product and present it in new ways. All the window dressing will be removed. The extraneous “atmosphere” of these games will not be there.
It’s going to be just the games. Pure games. And for TV, a blank canvas around the edges.
And will those events have the same appeal without all the noise -- literal and figurative -- that has surrounded them?
We are going to find out.