Cardboard sports fans

Raise your hand if you watched some football this past weekend. Thank you. Please lower your hand. Now raise your hand if your enjoyment was enhanced by seeing cardboard images of people in the stands. Good. Thanks. You may lower your hand. Just one final question. Raise your hand if hearing recorded crowd noises heightened your enjoyment of the game.

How about the piped-in “Charge!” music? The rhythmic banging of the metal pipe?

As a lifetime baseball fan, I have appreciated my recent opportunity to watch games in major league’s Covid-shortened season, all of them played in ballparks devoid of living spectators but peppered with photos of real people pasted to cardboard. In at least one ballpark, these mockups appeared to fill every seat. Consider the time and effort that required. And the cost.

Someone must be making a tidy profit here.

Now, football has returned, and college basketball is close behind, just after the election.

Is your enjoyment of these games heightened by seeing these cardboard images? Hearing the recorded crowd noises? Maybe the players like these props. I certainly don’t. If I were a professional football or baseball player, the pictures would distract me from concentrating on the game. The sounds? Maybe that could make the experience seem more real if they were controlled intelligently.

Eventually, one hopes, this dreadful pandemic will end, and real people will be able to attend these games safely, cheer their favorite teams and players, boo at the officials’ calls, insult the umpires. How we all look forward to that day!

In the meantime, let’s try to ignore the cardboard. Concentrate on the game.

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