People across the world have had to adjust to performing countless tasks remotely to comply with varying degrees of lockdown protocol due to the coronavirus pandemic. Why not cheering on one’s favorite sports team?
That appears to be the perspective of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan — as well as the country’s J.League soccer organization — as a system has been developed to allow fans to root on teams playing in empty stadium through an app called the Remote Cheerer system.
The Nippon Professional Baseball league is scheduled to return to play on July 19, with the J.League slated to resume a few leeks later. No fans of course will be allowed entry into stadiums due to concerns over the risk of increased coronavirus infections.
When games are ultimately held, the Remote Cheerer system will allow fans watching telecasts of games to cheer or jeer players via their smartphones.
That prerecorded fan input will then “reverberate around the stadium in real time, transmitted by giant loudspeakers,” per a report by Jack Tarrant of Reuters. The setup consists of 58 speakers spread around the stadium placed at ground level, and fans can select from which speaker their vocalization will be shared.
“At one point during the system field test, I closed my eyes and it felt like the cheering fans were right there in the stadium with me,” said Keisuke Matsubayashi, an official with Yamaha Corporation, the company that developed the Remote Cheerer app.
Sports leagues across the world have been keenly watching how organizations that have begun play or will soon resume games approach such unprecedented situations rife with potential pitfalls. Should the Remote Cheerer system be a literal virtual success in the Nippon Professional Baseball league and J.League, perhaps sports organizations in the U.S. will at least consider utilization of the app.
That being said, it sounds like at least one American sports organization is already considering alternative means to create a virtually quasi-normal environment in empty stadiums left sterile without fans in attendance.