Sports Adjusting to Covid – “Fake Fans”

By Jannah Bolds
EIC, The Bold Opinion


Since the rise of Covid-19, the world (cough.. the US) has been struggling with the thought of getting back to normal-life operations. Returning to work and attending leisure activities are two of the main driving forces inducing the urge during these immense times, and the reintroduction of professional sports have people bursting with inquisitive anxiety. 

There’s no doubt that professional sports ring in the majority of revenue for the United States, so as Fall and Winter sports season approaches, fans are, undoubtedly fiending for some “ball action”. But in the midst of pandemic irresponsibility, what does it cost? 

For The Players

At this time, ISOLATION has proven itself to be the key to bypassing COVID-19’s contagion, but how do you isolate in a group activity where sweat, tears, and sometimes, blood, is shed frequently? Well, since the beginning of the MLB and NBA seasons, athletes have been forced to comply with altered regulations to keep themselves and fans as safe as possible. This means restricting player access to the public, family, friends, and anyone with access to “the outside”. Forgive me for the reference, but doesn’t this sound a little concentration camp-ish to you? 

Obviously, the implications and conditions are nowhere near the same, but you can’t deny that COVID is enforcing absolute fundamental methods to keep people in their places. 

Athletes and coaches in the NBA have been ordered to the confides of the ESPN Wide World of Sports’ 220-acre facility in Orlando, Florida for the entire season or, at least, until further notice. I imagine it’s like enlisting in the US military and being away from your loved ones for at least eight months. I feel that’s semi-tangible, but I’m really perplexed by the improvisational efforts to make things feel normal. It feels very “fake it ‘till you make it” in terms of fan involvement and general operations. Since a lot of life has moved into a digital space, brands have been forced into creative methods to keep people involved. This makes sense, but feels completely abnormal! 

Maybe I’m struggling to adjust, but what in the absolute Hell are these “fake” fans in the bleachers?! LOL The NBA has adopted a methodology that includes virtually projected spectators from their homes onto a ginormous LED board behind the bleachers.

It’s gotten to the point where in the MLB, even the cardboard spectators are sporting masks and/or face coverings. Goodness gracious! Can you imagine the board meeting conversations? 

“Adam, we need to make this as real as we can so we don’t lose capital.”

“Of course! Can we have a few of them, like, wear masks too? Just to make it feel like 2020.”

If it feels phony to us, as spectators, imagine how the players feel.

Again, COVID-19 has forced the professional sports world to conform to health regulations to keep the money flowing and athletes dribbling. 

Capitalism wins yet again. 

Featured Image Credit: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

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