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Manufactured fan noise… what?

Yay or nay?

Ok, so it’s Week 1 of the NFL. There are a zillion different headlines right now. From Tom Brady’s first start with the Buccaneers, the Raiders’ first game as the “Las Vegas Raiders” (which feels wrong on so many levels), and the controversy (well, controversies, let’s be real) related to the Washington Football Team. But as you’ve learned, we’re not here to talk about the obvious, on Tales of the Agate. We’re here to talk about the obscure.

For this lady sportswriter, right now, I want to talk about the obscurity and weirdness that is the manufactured crowd noise on all of the broadcasts I’ve watched this far into the season. And frankly, in a lot of the sporting events I’ve watched since “the sports” has come back to life in 2020.

The US Open has felt somewhat familiar, given that tennis is a sport of quiet, not unlike golf. But watching the NFL this week, knowing that the stands are 100% empty (except in Jacksonville), it is a strange experience for me hearing crowds cheer. The Sporting News did a fantastic breakdown of what exactly the conditions on the field, in the stadiums, and broadcasts are going to look like here.

I think the strangest part about that article is the link to the actual memo detailing how and what will happen. And more importantly, how the NFL itself is going to control things!!! There’s even a note that teams who fail to comply will be sanctioned/fined/put on time out (ok, maybe not that last one, but it feels incredibly childish to fine a team for not playing fake sounds).

Thursday night, watching the Texans take on the Chiefs with minimal crowd noise, was weird. But on Sunday, watching the Dolphins face off against the Patriots with ambient crowd noise was even more so. Another great example came from Buccaneers/Saints, where there’s even booing as players get involved in a little dustup during the second quarter.

My question for you readers is: what is your position on the manufactured crowd noise when you’re watching your favorites these days? As a sports fan, which would you rather have? Nothing, just hearing cadence and play-calling, the authentic sounds of the game? Or this manufactured craziness that’s not fooling anyone? Do you think it would be more appropriate for the league to let the teams figure out what works and what doesn’t?

My brain can’t compute these sorts of things. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I know I’m watching live sports, and I can’t create the suspension of reality that I would for say, an Avengers movie or a Harry Potter film.

But all I can say is that it’s just plain weird. Then again, if there’s an adjective that is the only acceptable way to describe 2020 in general, it’s “weird.”


Bio: Ashley Ragland doesn’t want to hear any flak about how a SoCal native can love the Red Sox and Patriots as much as she does. For more thoughts and opinions on life, sports, and everything in between, you can find her on Twitter (@ashleyragland14) and Instagram (@ashleykate314).

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