There are a million questions surrounding the NHL’s Return to Play plan, but one of the more obvious ones centers on how the league is going to create anything close to a playoff-like atmosphere in an empty arena.
While there’s no way to truly replicate a frenzied playoff crowd, it appears that the league has a plan in place: virtual fans.
Per an email sent to Bruins season ticket holders, the team is looking for fans to submit virtual cheers, chants, celebrations, and even booing, all of which are eligible to be featured during the playoff action.
The plan appears to be similar in some ways to what the English Premier League has done during its restart, as fans will be shown on the screens in the arena while also being shown on the television broadcast.
Per the email, “footage [taken] may appear on a variety of platforms (In-Arena, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Television).”
As far as what the team is looking for, it goes far beyond just clapping or waving at the camera.
Requested footage includes:
- 30 seconds of chanting AND clapping “Let’s Go Bruins!”
- 30 seconds of just chanting “Let’s Go Bruins!”
- Video of a fan saying “WOOOOOO!”
- Video of a fan saying “TUUUUUUUUKKKKKKK”
- 30 seconds of a fan dancing Shipping Up to Boston
- 30 seconds of reacting to a goal being scored
- 30 seconds of chanting “We Want the Cup!”
- 30 seconds of booing/reacting to a bad call on the ice
The best part of the list above is for the last item, fans were specifically asked not to use obscene language or hand gestures. They know Bruins fans all too well.
It will be interesting to see how the team uses this kind of stuff, and how far it can go toward creating a decent atmosphere.
My guess is that on social media and on the TV broadcast, it’ll do a pretty good job (especially if there’s also manufactured crowd noise); for the players, I can’t imagine this will make much of an impact.
If Bruins are requesting this kind of content from their season ticket holders, it’s a guarantee that other teams are doing the same.
Prepare yourselves for plenty of virtual celebrations in the weeks ahead!