SOUND OFF: How’s the sports thing working out for you?

So, we’re into the NFL season, finally. Baseball is winding down just as it always does at this time every year. But, of course, this isn’t “every” year. Sports, like everything else, has changed. Probably just temporarily, but it’s still changed. Some sports have gone into a “bubble” while others just don’t admit fans to the stadiums.

For many of us, the way we interact with sports isn’t that different, surprisingly. We watch it on TV, on our phones, on our computers. It’s been like that for most of the history of professional sports. You have to look back to the 1920s to a time when the only way you could experience a game was in the stadium.

Yeah, but it’s still different.

Teams have done everything they can to bring the experience up to the level that you expect. Baseball’s organ players (or DJs) still blast music into the stadium. Sometimes you’ll hear fake sound effects to simulate crowd noise. Sometimes you can see cardboard standups filling the stands. They’re trying, they really are.

The question is, how effective are broadcasters at giving people the same experience they expect. I guess the answer is different for everyone.

Here’s my take

I think that yes it is different and you can’t get around that. But in a lot of ways you get a better experience. You can focus more on the games without having to watch the kiss cams or see that shot of the guy pushing his kid out of the way to catch a foul ball. It’s not as … electric, I’ll admit. The crowd experience does add to the tension of a difficult game and definitely adds to the thrill of the win. But overall I think that networks have done a good job.

I think adding crowd noises sourced from video games is flat out brilliant. These games have spent a quarter century trying to replicate the stadium experience. Why not take advantage of that? Yes, if you really think about it, it’s flat-out manipulative. There’s some dude or some algorithm deciding how you should feel and playing sounds to make you feel that way. Well, that’s the same thing that a radio DJ does or a club DJ does. It’s no different. If it really bothers you, you can always mute.

I’ll also give it to a lot of the color commentators for doing excellent work. There are a few sportscasters in the world who do a truly rotten job and still get paid the big bucks. I totally see that. But most of them really do pull their weight and it’s amazing that they create the excitement that they do. In a lot of cases they’re just watching the game on TV like we are, they aren’t even in the stadium. And yet they pull through spectacularly.

What’s your take?

Are you finding sports to be as good this year? Is it keeping your mind off other things that might be bothering you? [It is, after all, 2020, the hemorrhoid of years.] Or is the difference between 2019 and 2020 too much to bear because of how it affects sports? Tell us in the comments below!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.