Sports on TV without the fans sounds like a better viewing experience

Sports on TV without the fans sounds like a better viewing experience

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.

Not me.

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.

Seattle sports stars rally around Class of 2020 in viral video  

Seattle sports stars rally around Class of 2020 in viral video  

What do Walter Jones, D.J. Fluker, Christian Roldan, Stefan Frei, Matt Hasselbeck and Kenny Mayne have in common?

They are all staples in the Seattle sports community. 

But before this star-studded cast including MLS champions and Pro Football Hall of Famers found their way to the Emerald City, they each walked across the stage at their high school graduations.

They realize not many students will get the same opportunity as they did years before. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, graduations across the country have gone virtual, been postponed, or canceled altogether. 

To make sure each high school graduates' hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, the Seattle athletes put together a commencement speech of sorts for the Class of 2020. 

Take a look: 

Former Seahawks guard, now Baltimore Raven, D.J. Fluker showed sympathy for the students who were unable to celebrate this important milestone in person. 

“I know that you are hurt, confused and angry, I mean, I would be angry too,” Fluker said. “But for me to tell you guys this, to be resolute. I want you guys to take a moment and ask yourselves, 'does this define me?'" 

Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, who won his second MLS Cup with Seattle in 2019, urged the Class of 2020 to use this time and experience to grow. 

“Please remember this time as not one of loss, but rather opportunity,” Frei said. “Opportunity to reset your life, to prepare yourself to prevent moments like what we are living through because you are the future. You hold the keys to the proverbial vehicle that will lead us into the next chapter of our lives.” 

[RELATED: Headstrong: Seattle Sounders Stefan Frei emphasizes that everyone should find their passion]

ESPN anchor, former Seahawk and Federal Way native Kenny Mayne reminded the senior class that while commencement looks a lot different this year, at least they have Tik Tok. 

“The graduating class of 1918, they didn’t even have TikTok,” Mayne said. “They didn’t have any of this technology we have now. Their graduation was pretty bad, this is way better. So, you’ve had some things stolen from you, didn’t get to finish the sports season, the prom, all sorts of other things you were all looking forward to and that’s a downer. 

“But take this time to shoot for the moon. Remember that person you were interested in like Day 3 of freshman year and you never made the play, pick up the phone. Let’s go.” 

Check out Talkin' Seahawks every week for Seattle Seahawks news, game breakdowns, and analysis, plus conversations with the most important names in Seattle. 



MLS to begin individual player workouts, but with extra precaution

MLS to begin individual player workouts, but with extra precaution

Starting next Wednesday, Major League Soccer will become the first North American sports league to allow its players to return to team facilities for individual workouts. 

According to an official release from MLS, players can conduct voluntary workouts beginning on May 6 based on state government and local guidelines. All clubs will be required to adhere to safety protocols for all voluntary workouts at team training sites. 

Some of the safety protocols include restricting training facility to essential staff only, sanitization and disinfection plans for all training equipment and spaces, and staff will be required to maintain a minimum distance of 10 feet from players at all times. 

Every team will also be responsible for designating a member of the staff to oversee adherence to MLS-recommended protocols, as well as a specific implementation plan. All plans must be reviewed and approved by the club’s medical staff and local infection disease expert. 

As of now, the league-wide moratorium set forth by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, remains in place through Friday, May 15. MLS paused after two weeks into the 2020 season and matches through June 8 remain postponed.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced on Friday the state will be expanding COVID-19 testing and that certain regions of the state could open as soon as May 15. 

Portland Timbers owner and CEO Merritt Paulson shared his optimism in a post on Twitter. 

"Let's get going," he said. 


BREAKING: MLS suspends season due to coronavirus


BREAKING: MLS suspends season due to coronavirus

First the NBA, and now Major League Soccer. 

MLS announced on Thursday that the league would be suspending its season due to fears surrounding the Coronavirus

The suspension will last at least 30 days. 

The full statement from the league:

Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials.

At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events.

“Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season – based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “We’d like to thank our fans for their continued support during this challenging time.”

Prior to the announcement two MLS matches had already been postponed: A match between the San Jose Earthquakes and Sporting Kansas City, and one between the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas. Both matches were to take place on March 21st in San Jose and Seattle respectively. 

Locally, the Portland Timbers had five matches scheduled over the next 30 days, two of which were to be played at Providence. Park. 

While the Seattle Sounders had four matches scheduled, with only one to be played at home. 

There is no word yet as to how the league plans to make up these missed dates. 

We will update will more information as it comes in. 

Coronavirus outbreak forces Seattle-area sports to postpone or play without fans

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Coronavirus outbreak forces Seattle-area sports to postpone or play without fans

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Wednesday the state of Washington will implement new community strategies and social distancing plans to minimize exposure of COVID-19. 

Events taking place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with more than 250 people, including sporting events, will now be prohibited by the state. The newest measure will restrict sports gatherings for the rest of March.

Following Inslee’s ban on large group events, Seattle-area sports teams announced changes to their games. The Seattle Dragons will play without fans at CenturyLink Field, while the Seattle Sounders have moved an upcoming match on March 21. 

Here’s a look at how the latest restrictions will impact the area’s teams: 

Mariners on the move 

The Seattle Mariners, who were set to begin the 2020 MLB season with a seven-game homestand against the Texas Rangers, are working with the league to move the opening series. They will move March home games to another location, yet to be determined. Reports circulated that the Mariners could play games in Arizona, but this has yet to be confirmed by the league. 

“While we hope to be back to playing baseball in Seattle as soon as possible, the health and safety of our community is the most important consideration.”

Dragons to play without fans

The league announced Wednesday that Sunday’s game between the Seattle Dragons and Los Angeles Wildcats will be played without fans in the building. This is a huge loss for the XFL, as the Dragons have attracted crowds of 20,000-plus in each of their two home games. 

“Based on the proclamation issues Wednesday by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the Seattle Dragons will host the LA Wildcats this Sunday, as scheduled,” XFL president and COO Jeffrey Pollack said in a statement. “The game will take place at 4 p.m. PT at CenturyLink Field without fans in the venue. The game will be broadcast live, also as scheduled, on ESPN2.”

The Dragons said the team will issue refunds to single-game ticket holders, and season ticket holders will be offered refunds or credit toward a future Dragons’ game during the 2021 XFL season. 

Sounders game postponed

The Seattle Sounders have made a decision to postpone their match on March 21 against FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders have said the club will continue consistent dialogue with leadership, health officials and MLS, and as more information becomes available, they will share with the public. 

“Throughout this process, Sounders FC has stated that nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans. With that in mind, we respect the difficult decision that has been made today, and our club will continue following the guidelines set forth by our public health authorities and government agencies.”

Defiance to play behind closed doors

The Tacoma Defiance will play their second match of the season against the San Diego Loyal squad at Cheney Stadium, however the game will be closed to the public. 

“With San Diego Loyal’s squad already in town to play the contest, we have been in touch with the United Soccer League, regional government agencies and health authorities about the best path forward. Because Cheney Stadium will be closed to the public, it has been deemed safe to proceed with Tacoma Defiance’s second match of the season.”

Seawolves await decision 

The Seattle Seawolves professional rugby team says two of their upcoming matches will be affected: March 21, 2010 against the Houston Sabercats and March 29, 2020 against the Colorado Raptors. Both games were scheduled to take place at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. 

The team has said it is working with Major League Rugby to create an action plan for the affected matches and will provide updates when plans are confirmed. 

“While this decision comes at time of global unease, the health and safety of our fans, players, and the entire Seawolves organization is our number one priority.”

Rainiers home opener could be impacted

The Tacoma Rainers, Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, announced Wednesday that it will continue working with the Pacific Coast League to determine flexibility within the schedule, should a shutdown continue past the March deadline. The Rainiers schedule is expected to begin on April 9 at Cheney Stadium. 

The team says ticket buyers will not be charged for any game that is not played at Cheney Stadium, nor any games that will be closed to the public. 

“Our hope is to play our entire Rainiers home season as scheduled and we are excited to open the gates to Cheney Stadium without health concerns as soon as possible,” Rainiers president Aaron Artman said in a statement. 

At this time, Washington’s coronavirus death total is at 26. The new statewide case number, as reported by the Department of Health, and local health districts is 284. 

It's official: Locker rooms will be closed to media members

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It's official: Locker rooms will be closed to media members

With reports swirling over the last couple of days that the NBA would be taking extra precautions in wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the NBA along with the MLS, NHL, and MLB have released a statement on closing lockers to the media.

Media members will no longer be allowed in team locker rooms. Only players and essential personnel will be granted access.

Here is Monday’s official statement:  

NEW YORK, March 9, 2020 – Major League Baseball (MLB), Major League Soccer (MLS), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL) today issued the following joint statement:

“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting. These temporary changes will be effective beginning with tomorrow’s games and practices.“We will continue to closely monitor this situation and take any further steps necessary to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.”

### Jim LaBumbard

Team and Basketball Communications

Here's how the coronavirus could impact sporting events in Washington, Oregon

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Here's how the coronavirus could impact sporting events in Washington, Oregon

COVID-19 has hit the Pacific Northwest. 

At least 10 people from Washington State have died from what is better known as the coronavirus. Some schools and public events have closed or been cancelled amid concerns of the outbreak and further spread, and sporting events could be next. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined Seattle Morning News on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM on Thursday and acknowledged the spread of the coronavirus could have an impact on sports in the state. 

“We are starting to consider that and have been now for some period of time,” Inslee said. “So, what we are doing is evaluating the legal requirements that are involved in making a decision like that and we are socializing people to the possibility of that.”

Inslee said they have currently not made any decisions to limit public events, including sporting events, but it could be a measure the state could eventually implement. 

“It would be a hierarchy of things. The first thing would be to legally prohibit gatherings over a certain number. That can be done by the emergency powers by the governor in statute. To talk about things that are not necessary in our lives, meaning entertainment and sports and political gatherings, I suppose, that are not intrinsic to our economy or our education.”

Washington events that could be impacted

If the state did choose to shut down sporting events in Washington State, it would have an effect on a number of major sports teams. The Seattle Mariners, for example, are set to begin the MLB season with a seven-game homestand beginning on March 26. 

"Currently, we are following guidance from public health authorities and our medical staff to provide training and resources to safeguard the health and well-being of our staff and provide a safe and sanitary facility for the start of the season in four weeks,” the Mariners said in a statement. “This is an evolving situation and we’ll continue to keep fans updated by email, social media and our website."

The Seattle Dragons have three more games at CenturyLink Field this season on March 15, March 22 and April 11. Spokane, Washington is also scheduled to host the first and second-round of the men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament March 19-21.

Some basketball games around the Seattle area have already been effected. The University of Missouri-Kansas City, as well as Chicago State, announced its men’s team would not travel to Seattle University because of coronavirus concerns. 

While the Seattle Sounders are scheduled to host Columbus Crew SC on Saturday, there has been no indication that the game won’t go on as planned. The team’s MLS season opener against Chicago Fire FC continued to draw large crowds. Sounders goalie Stefan Frei was seen signing autographs and personal items for fans. 

“Sounders FC is part of both a regional task force and Major League Soccer’s task force to monitor this developing situation,” the club said in a statement. “As matters evolve and more information becomes available, we will continue to provide relevant details to the public.”

The Seattle Sounders next games at home are against Columbus Crew on March 7 and FC Dallas on March 21. 

Oregon prepares

Just 174 miles south on the I-5 corridor, the Portland Trail Blazers are also taking precautions to keep their players safe. The NBA sent out a memo to all 30 teams advising players to avoid high-fives and offer fist-bumps when interracting with fans.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum took to Twitter to let fans know he would not be signing autographs until further notice. 

"You just have to be careful," McCollum told NBCS Northwest. "Obviously, it’s affecting people, especially who are displaying weaker immune systems, people over 60. Wash your hands; try to reduce contact with outsiders and outside germs."

The Blazers have 19 games remaining in the regular season, including 11 at home, over the final six weeks of the season. 

“We continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep guests informed of any changes to scheduled events at Moda Center or Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” the Trail Blazers’ statement said. "We have increased the frequency of disinfecting high touchpoint areas on campus, provided additional hand sanitizing stations, switched to anti-bacterial soap and have distributed informational preventative health flyers throughout the campus."

The Portland Timbers hosted their season-opener on Sunday night against Minnesota and will play their next match on March 8 at Providence Park. The team says they will continue to monitor COVID-19 concerns. 

“The Timbers have a very robust and thorough housekeeping program in place at Providence Park," the Timbers said in a statement. "We have bolstered our efforts by installing additional hand sanitizing stations and deploying a crew to disinfect surfaces throughout every match night. We encourage fans to wash their hands frequently, and if not feeling well, please stay home. We remain in close contact with local and national health authorities and are monitoring the situation closely.”

The Moda Center will also be home to 2020 NCAA women's basketball tournament Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds, which will be played on March 28 and 30. The West Regional will draw fans and teams from across the country. 

Extra hand sanitizer stations and increased cleaning procedures have been implemented at the Rose Quarter to educate spectators about preventative health. 

While many sporting events in the Pacific Northwest have not been canceled, moved or postponed yet, the ramifications of the coronavirus have disrupted other areas of the world.

Club soccer in Italy will be held without spectators until at least April 3, while Switzerland suspended games until March 23 as club's refused to play in front of stadiums without fans. China's World Cup qualifying games have been moved to Thailand and the LPGA Tour canceled its events in China, Singapore and Thailand in February and March. 

Timbers to welcome Liga MX team to Providence Park in 2020

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Timbers to welcome Liga MX team to Providence Park in 2020

The Portland Timbers will host a Leagues Cup match this July.

According to the Timbers, Portland will welcome a Liga MX team to Providence Park on either July 21 or July 22 as a part of the 2020 Leagues Cup. Major League Soccer (MLS) and Liga MX released the competition’s full schedule on Thursday.

“This is a very important tournament for the Timbers and MLS and we look forward to playing host to what will be one of the better sides in Liga MX,” Timbers general manager and president of soccer said in a release. “It gives us a tremendous opportunity to play a meaningful match against top-end competition in front of our fans and is the first step towards a deepening MLS relationship with Liga MX.”

The 2020 Leagues Cup will feature eight clubs from each league in a single-elimination tournament with three rounds: quarterfinals, semifinals and final. Like the 2019 edition, all matches between the MLS and Liga MX team are played in home market of the MLS team.

This is Portland’s first appearance in the Leagues Cup. The Timbers qualified to be in the tournament after finishing top-four in the Western Conference and thus not participating in either the 2020 CONCAF Champions League or 2020 Campeones Cup.

Sporting events around the world pay tribute to Kobe Bryant

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Sporting events around the world pay tribute to Kobe Bryant

News of Kobe Bryant being killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday sent shockwaves across the globe.

While the news broke, many big sporting events were soon beginning or already underway. The Denver Nuggets held a chilling moment of silence ahead of their game against the Houston Rockets, while Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson led a moment of prayer in the locker room ahead of the NFL Pro Bowl.

Let’s take a look at how sporting events around the world paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers legend.

At the NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, Packers wide receiver Davante Adams caught a touchdown and then signaled “24” to the cameras and pointed to the sky. Russell Wilson reportedly led players in prayer, while Drew Brees discussed the impact Bryant had on the world.

In France, Neymar paid his respects to Black Mamba when he scored his second goal for Paris Saint-Germain against Lille on Sunday. He flashed the No. 24 with his hands.

In a storied Civil War clash between the Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team in Corvallis, Oregon, the two teams came together for a moment of prayer before the game.

Ducks star Sabrina Ionescu mourned the loss of her friend and mentor. She was seen wearing Nike’s with the words “Forever 24.


In Denver, Colorado, the Nuggets and Rockets held a moment of silence to mourn the loss of Kobe. 

Fans of the Lakers legend fled to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to gather and remember one of the greatest athletes of all time.

CBS’ Jim Nantz struggled to hold back emotions when he opened up Sunday’s broadcast of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. Several reports suggest Tiger Woods was informed of his friend’s passing during the middle of his round.

Diego Valeri signs contract extension with Portland Timbers

Diego Valeri signs contract extension with Portland Timbers

Good news for soccer fans in the Rose City - franchise star Diego Valeri and the team have agreed to a contract extension, the team announced Monday. 

Valeri, 33, has been with the club since 2013 and is one of the greatest players to ever wear the green and gold. In the MLS era, he is the team's leading goal scorer (76), the leader in assists (81) and the leader in total points (233). He also scored one of the most famous goals in franchise and MLS history, putting the TImbers up 1-0 in just twenty-six seconds into the 2015 MLS Cup. He would go on to win the MLS Cup MVP after leading Portland to its first and only title. 

Via the official press release from the team, general manager Gavin WIlkinson said: 

Diego is a Timbers legend and we couldn’t be happier that he and his family will remain in the Rose City... Not only has Diego been a leader in MLS over his career, he has become a local icon who is tremendously important to the club, the fans and the City of Portland. We look forward to raising another Cup with him.

Head Coach Giovanni Savarese added: 

Re-signing Diego was one of our priorities ahead of the upcoming season and we feel delighted to have been able to keep him in our roster... Diego is a unique player both on and off the field and his experience and leadership will help us to further extend the team’s winning culture.

There were a lot of questions regarding Valeri's status at the end of last season. Would he return? Did the team want him back? Are we watching the end of an era? Thanks to the news Monday, we have a solid answer. El Maestro ain't going nowhere. 

I am happy to extend my contract with the Portland Timbers... I would like to thank all the people involved to make it happen as I always expected. I have a special mention for Florencia, Connie and our fans who have warmly supported me throughout the years. It’s an immense honor to play for them. - Diego Valeri