There’s been nothing normal about life since the coronavirus pandemic hit American shores. The NFL has been the best sports league to tackle COVID-19 issues thanks to outside-the-box thinking: look for that to continue during the NFL 2020 season.
Lead Fox NFL broadcaster Joe Buck previewed what could come this fall when the NFL 2020 season launches. Given that many governors are already predicting that large crowds will be prohibited at sporting events into September, it’s no surprise that the NFL and its broadcast partners are discussing plans to begin play with no fans in the stands and imagining how a broadcast would appear. It’s the same issue facing every other major sport as they look to launch this summer or fall, but instead of retreating to a more somber atmosphere, Buck says his network should pipe in crowd noise and use graphics to provide for a truer game experience, as he discussed in an interview with SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen:
“There’s probably going to be a season in doing games with no fans, which will be difficult,” Buck said. “I think Fox and these networks have to put crowd noise under us to make it a normal viewing experience at home.”
When pressed by Cohen, Buck said he was certain crowd noise will be added to potential broadcasts without fans, and went as far as to say “I know they’ll do it” and that it’s “pretty much a done deal.”
“I think whoever’s going to be at that control is going to have to be really good at their job and be realistic with how a crowd would react depending on what just happened on the field, so it’s really important.”
Also being explored: high-end graphics that would place computer-generated fans into the stadium to make it appear like a pre-coronavirus NFL game played before a packed house.
Fans are craving a normal experience in the wake of a still-unfamiliar routine that calls for facemasks and social distancing. But there is some danger into turning an NFL showdown into a high-end video game. The reality is that the sport could be played before empty houses when the season starts, followed by smaller crowds subject to virus-busting measures when fans are allowed into the stadium. You can still have a great football game without denying the reality of what’s happening in the real world, and wishing away the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is a disservice to all.