It is going to be strange, that is for sure. No standing ovations after a huge body check. There will not be an eruption from the crowd after a ferocious dunk. Sections of people will not be cheering whenever the home pitcher winds up with two strikes on the batter.
While these games will certainly contain a void, especially early on, some sports will be more affected by empty arenas. Baseball, basketball, and hockey will all have benefits and drawbacks under these circumstances. The NFL will not be included in this, as their season could face different circumstances in September. These three other leagues are guaranteed to not have fans, at least for the near future.
Hockey will feel the most abnormal without fans. The rowdy supporters play a huge factor in amplifying the experience of watching a game on tv. Nothing gets a home crowd into a postseason battle like their favorite tough guy delivering a devastating open ice hit. Not to mention, there is no other fan activity in another sport like banging the glass. A crowd’s ecstasy filled eruption after a game tying goal in the third is palpable.
However, one way hockey could benefit with no fans is the on ice conversations being audible. We should hear a lot more of the insults, instructions, and banter. While that thought probably gives the NHL league office a heart attack, the fans watching on tv will be the beneficiaries. Bruins fans might be able to experience Brad Marchand eviscerate opponents, both with his gift to gab and stick handling skills.
There will be times when the lack of fans during NBA games will be stunning. When a team goes on a dominating run and forces the coach to burn a time out, the lack of energy in the building will feel odd. A player finishing a lay up through a foul while the arena is silent is a strange thought.
However, the crowd is not quite as big a factor in basketball as it is for hockey. During important moments, it will sure feel off. However, the benches will be able to produce at least some commotion after their teammate makes a big play. Not to mention, we will definitely hear a lot of chatter throughout the course of the game. The NBA games will be impacted by the lack of fans, but that will lead to other intriguing components.
The lack of fans in MLB parks will certainly make for an odd experience. However, the other two sports rely on the crowd’s energy more. In regular season baseball games the crowd is usually not a factor. For walk offs and strikeouts to end innings, sure. But generally, throughout the course of a game, the crowd is not vital for the viewing experience.
Baseball could also really benefit by having conversations picked up. That will be especially true for arguments. There is no other sport where the manager can get that close to an umpire and just let them have it. It will be awesome hearing players and managers blow up at umpires and let them know their true thoughts on that third strike.
Not having fans in these areas will be a weird site. There is no getting around that. However, fans might be able to hear the players talking, yelling, cheering, chirping, and arguing. That will absolutely enhance the viewing experience, as long as the league does not interfere too much with the audio.
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