Like a lot of sports-starved Americans, I've been watching a good bit of Bundesliga soccer lately. I have a bit more interest in it than the average observer, as my favorite club team competes in the league, though admittedly not very well.
The Bundesliga was the first major league to come back after the coronavirus hit, and they are currently playing in front of empty stadiums. This has been jarring, to say the least. The empty seats were weird, but the most bizarre thing has been the lack of crowd noise. Especially after big moments, players didn't seem to know how to react. Goal celebrations were muted, almost perfunctory even. It was like watching an intrasquad scrimmage.
This week, though, something has changed. The home teams have been playing crowd noise in the stadiums, and it has made a world of difference.
First off, the TV experience has been 100 times better. With the camera zoomed in so that only the field shows on the screen, I'm not sure I would be able to immediately discern the difference between a game in front of no fans and piped in noise and a game in front of a packed stadium. It's an incredible difference.
It also seems to be making a difference on the field. Players seems less listless and more animated. Goal celebrations have been more energetic. Guys are - or at least appear - more into the games. Part of that is probably down to adjusting to being back and everything it entails, but I don't think the crowd noise can be entirely factored out.
It should be noted that the teams have been doing a great job with it. They don't just have general crowd noise, though they do have that. They also supplement the background noise with celebratory tracks for goals, whistling for dives and bad calls, and a rising cacophony for building pressure. Anything a crowd would do, they have a track for, and the people in charge of mixing them in have been on point.
Xavier's first home game will be scheduled for sometime in early November, I hope. I also hope that attendance will be allowed for it, though I think it's not unreasonable to be concerned on that front. If we can't attend in person, I'm hoping Cintas will have crowd noise tracks cued up and someone in charge of and trained up in mixing them in at the right time. It makes a world of difference in the viewing experience and helps me forget, if only briefly, that there's a world-changing pandemic on.
Plus, how will I know if we need a stop if I can't hear people barking like dogs?