When the NBA announced its season would resume without spectators, fans and players rejoiced at the idea of games being played in empty arenas in the Orlando bubble.
Long gone would be the crowded, pushy lines to get into stadiums, the stuffy atmosphere of the indoor stadiums and the nearly deafening noise emitted from enthusiasts and the big speakers. No longer would fans have to choose from the limited food options of stadiums. At home, fans would have their own kitchens at their disposal and could watch games in peace.
Additionally, fans are safer watching games from home but not because of COVID-19. Courtside fans no longer had to fret about being barrelled into by players hustling for loose balls or slipping on a drink a server dropped on the sideline. Fans could rest assured knowing that no balls would fly into their face when they looked at their phone.
Many fans were also saved from a lifetime of embarrassment of viral videos of themselves at sporting events. From proposals gone wrong to Kiss Cam fiascos, fans could enjoy watching games at home without the nagging fear that their most embarrassing moments would live forever online.
For players, not having fans in stadiums is also ideal. They can perform at higher levels now they do not have the distractions of passionate fans. When a player hits a 3-pointer or puts a defender on a poster, there is no uproar. Rather, players can look at the screens surrounding the court containing virtual, nearly silent fans. Players could also better hear instructions from their coaches, preventing costly errors and miscommunications, heightening the quality of the play.
In the NFL, thousands of cardboard cutouts fill the stands. Because of this, stadiums now often feature some of the world’s most famous faces, such as Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson and Queen Elizabeth, who were pictured sitting next to each other at the Kansas City – Houston game in September. As a player, why would you want to play in front of a crowd of unknowns when you can have some of the most prominent eyes in the world on you?
The lives of players and fans are far better with empty stadiums. If a time ever comes where fans are allowed back into NBA arenas, fans and players alike should both protest because for now, everyone is better off without live fans.