NFL Joins Fake Crowd Noise Debate

Just like every sport that’s returned to play in 2020 amid this coronavirus pandemic have weighed the pros and cons of whether to add piped in sound to its game broadcasts, the NFL won’t stay silent as Week 1 games kickoff around the country on the first football Sunday of the year.

NFL Films has spent hundreds of hours curating and mixing specific sounds from different stadiums over the last four years to try and get a noise for every game situation that may arise.

Then, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN and others, the sounds will be controlled by someone at the league who’s in charge of playing those sounds and hitting the right buttons at the right times for the viewing audience. That person will be a DJ, a mixologist, whatever you want to call it. The NFL will have some fans present at certain games, like in Jacksonville this week in its game against the Indianapolis Colts where there isn’t the fake noise, but expect mixology to be the new normal at football games, whether you as a fan like it or not.

It’s a different approach, of course, to the NBA, who has virtual fans in attendance at its games at the Orlando bubble. But with games going on at 29 different stadiums throughout the season, virtual fans would not only be a much tougher ask, but not needed at the venues and cities where fans are permitted.

Major League Baseball has mainly played out its season by using a tiny bit of noise but mainly letting the natural sounds of the ballpark guide things. Fox has utilized a novel virtual fan approach, and is trying that out in football as well for this week’s Detroit Lions game against the Chicago Bears.

There will probably be mistakes made by these NFL DJs, and they’ll be noticed and pointed out on Twitter and social media. I prefer silence in my games, but the leagues and teams clearly disagree with me. As with every other league, the NFL’s hope is that pumped in, fake, artificial crowd noise will enhance the game broadcasts rather than be a distraction and take away from your viewing pleasure.

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