Baseball fans tuned in to live games this past weekend for the first time. We finally got a chance to see and hear "pandemic-ball" and witness what team sports will be like in the foreseeable future.
Since spectators in stadiums and arenas have been banned by all the North American sports leagues, that leaves an glaring void in what we're accustomed to seeing and hearing when we watch games.
In preseason games, which began last week, baseball fans who tuned in have been hearing the crack of the bat. Loud and clear. We listened to the sounds of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt. The voices of players and umpires was easy to hear and understand, which is a rare treat, indeed.
Unfortunately, the sound of baseball at its most pristine apparently is way too awkward for some impatient fans who apparently need a baby rattler and constant stimulation. In fairness, players and coaches have also expressed frustrations with not hearing the customary crowd noise. So, stadiums have been experimenting with piping in fake crowds. Television networks have also been tinkering with phony cheers and jeers.
It's all pretty pathetic, really. Just play the games. The fans will watch. Make that – the real fans will watch. We'll get used to the adjustment. In some ways, the games could even be more interesting since we would be able to hear just about everything that happens in the field, on the court, or on the ice.
Unfortunately, it does appear baseball – and perhaps others sports, too – will pump in fake crowd noise, which makes the televised experience about as connected to reality as listening to a laugh track during an unfunny sit-com. This whole idea sounds torturous.
On last week's "Slap Shot," two Las Vegas Golden Knights sportswriters were interviewed. They reacted to the new possibility with some surprise. Both were thrilled at the prospect of no fans in the arena. Sure, normal NHL hockey would be preferable and we can't wait until the days and nights of capacity crowds. But in the meantime, the hockey beat writers said they were intrigued by the rare opportunity to hear players talking, yelling, coaxing each other, as well as the audio of skates slashing the ice and shots pounding the glass. This all sounds much more exciting than a computer-generated fake crowd, doesn't it?
Please – stop with the high-tech wizardry. We have enough of that in daily life already. Leave our sports alone. Let them play. We will watch, and if there's no fake crowd noise, many of us will probably turn the sound up.
Here's a perspective from the Bundesliga, which pumped crowd noise into games played in Germany:
Headline Photo Credit: awinninghabit.com