A survey by ESPN earlier this month suggested U.S. sports fans are cool with the idea of watching televised events without spectators instead of waiting for sports to restart only when fans can be there in person.
The coronavirus pandemic halted professional sports events around the world, though some countries, including the U.S., are making tentative moves toward restarts.
Aware that the stadium atmosphere could be a little on the dull side if there’s no one there supporting the teams, Japanese firm Yamaha have come up with the ingenious idea of using an app and a bunch of loudspeakers to fill a venue with the noise of fans watching from home.
Yamaha recently tested the “Remote Cheerer” system at the 58,000-seat Shizuoka Stadium ECOPA using 58 speakers placed among the empty seats.
Fans can tap on a number of preset responses offered on the app such as applause, cheers, and jeers to express their feelings as the game unfolds. The noise from tens of thousands of remote spectators will then blast out of the speakers, creating a more exciting atmosphere for both the players and those watching at home. It’s also possible to choose the part of the stadium from which the audio is delivered.
Best of all, there’s a button fans can tap to shout comments that will be instantly broadcast by the speakers. Just watch your language.
Commenting on the recent trial, Keisuke Matsubayashi of the Ogasayama Sports Park ECOPA said, “At one point during the system field test, I closed my eyes and it felt like the cheering fans were right there in the stadium with me. That’s when I knew that this system had the potential to cheer players on even in a stadium of this size.”
Yamaha points out that cheering teams and individuals is an essential part of sports, with passionate fans helping to inspire players to raise their game. It wants its innovative system be adopted by professional baseball and soccer teams in Japan as they make preparations to restart their seasons.
The company suggests that in the future the app could also be used by fans who are hospitalized, unable to get a ticket, or living far from the venue.
Certainly while the pandemic forces event organizers to keep stadia empty, the Remote Cheerer looks like a fun way for fans to interact directly with players so they can feel at least some of the excitement of a regular stadium-packed sports clash.