A potential coronavirus pandemic is no laughing matter. Please listen to the CDC and all appropriate authorities on how to keep safe.
That said, the idea of professional sports being played in empty arenas isn’t just in theory any longer. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Italian government has “ordered all sporting events to take place without fans” for the next month due to the coronavirus outbreak there.
It’s worth considering what such a scenario could look like here in Philadelphia, a place where our sports teams and venues are known for their extremely passionate fans.
You'll still be able to watch Sixers and Flyers games on NBC Sports Philadelphia, but a completely empty arena or stadium seems a bit bland, so here are a few ideas to make things a little more interesting.
One Surrogate Fan
Have him/her sign a waiver. Could be picked by winning a contest or something.
While the prospect of a basketball game being played with only the sounds of the ball hitting the hardwood with sneakers squeaking is interesting in theory, it isn’t very exciting over the course of an entire game let alone multiple games. Why not have one lone fan act as the surrogate for the entire fanbase? He can boo or cheer as he/she sees fit and can even incorporate social media to get the fanbase at large involved. If Al Horford has the ball taken from him, have Surrogate Fan read/scream a tweet about it from @FakeWIPCaller or @SixersAdam. It's like "mean tweets" but in real time.
Loud Speakers Controlled by Social Media / Poll
At the very least, you could have a giant set of speakers set up in the arena controlled by a voice-your-choice type polling. The only options here are 1.) silence 2.) cheering 3.) booing. Somehow, everybody at home has some sort of video-game “health meter” where if you boo or cheer for too long, you need time to recover before making noise again. The more people vote one way, the louder it gets. Drink a beer, get more health (the technology for that may have some kinks that need to be worked out still).
Live Webcam in Your Home Incorporated Into Telecast Somehow
This would need a serious tape-delay for obvious reasons, but it could be fun to see a shot of Anthony from Fishtown jumping out of his chair for a brief second after Joel Embiid posterized a guy.
I don't know, we haven't ironed out all the kinks just yet.
Would any of these ideas ever happen? Probably not, but it’s fun to think about. If none of these get implemented (they won't), can we at least get Gritty and the Phanatic at every game for their reactions?