Martin Devlin: Live sport doesn't work without crowds

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 May 2020, 3:11PM

Martin Devlin: Live sport doesn't work without crowds

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Mon, 18 May 2020, 3:11PM

I've seen the future of sport and I'm not sure I like it.

Live sport recommenced over the weekend with the resumption of Germany's football league, das Bundesliga. The world's sporting eyes locked onto this comp because how it pans out will pretty much provide the blueprint for the roll-out of the next wave which includes the NRL, Super Rugby and MLB among many others.

The major problem I have, and it's one that won't be solved anytime soon, is the behind closed doors policy which means no crowd and therefore no atmosphere. Which in turn, for me, kills a major part of the viewing experience.

The game I (mostly) watched was the Dortmund derby. Under normal circumstances, there would've been 60,000 mad fans packing the place going absolutely la-la. Instead, it had all the buzz and excitement of watching two teams playing in an empty swimming pool.

In other words, cold and uninspiring.

A goal getting scored to the sound of silence is an eerie experience. And one that we know is not about to change anytime soon. The most pessimistic outlook being the same scenario lasting another 12 months at least. 

So the message is - suck it up cupcake, it is what it is. Which, again, is where I have a problem. No, I don't like it and, no, I never will. The crowd is the game to me. Without the emotion, the fans bring then the whole thing just lacks intensity.

It's a beer on a hot day that isn't quite cold enough. Sure you'll still drink it but you know how much better it could've, should've been.  

And this for me is the one challenge that all these leagues have to think about - making the viewing experience that much better to compensate for the absence of the crowd. Yes, it will require some creative some innovative thinking, but isn't that what this new post-Covid world is demanding of us all anyway? 

Just because right now it might be the new normal doesn't mean it forever has to be. Here's hoping it's simply the first step in bringing us back to what we once thought it always would be.