A soccer team in Denmark brought thousands of fans into their stadium through Zoom and people can't decide if it's clever innovation or something out of 'Black Mirror'
- A Danish soccer team managed to bring thousands of fans into their arena.
- To recreate the stadium experience for both fans at home and players on the pitch, AGF Aarhus executed an ambitious plan with the help of more than 500 Zoom meetings and a 131-foot video board.
- On Twitter, some fans thought the idea brilliant, while others compared it to something out of a "Black Mirror" episode.
- As more leagues begin to resume play after suspensions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we may continue to see more creative efforts to replicate the fan experience without people filling up stadiums.
A club playing in the Danish Superliga found a clever way to bring fans into their stadium while still maintaining social distancing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, AGF Aarhus hosted Randers FC. While no fans were actually in attendance in the arena, thousands were beamed into the stadium via an impressive set up made up of more than 500 Zoom meetings.
The club had set up a giant video along one side of the stadium and invited fans to join and follow along with the action from their homes. According to Henry Bushnell at Yahoo Sports, the screen measured nine feet tall and an impressive 131 feet wide.
AGF Aarhus media officer Søren Carlsen told Yahoo Sports that the idea stemmed from a Danish television show, which had taken performances from musical artists and stitched them together with fans singing along at home.
"And that gave us the idea," Carlsen said, "Could we do something similar in a football stadium?"
The club made a call to Zoom, and with the help of 556 Zoom meetings filled with 18 fans each, the idea was made into a reality. According to Yahoo Sports, 200 meetings could be beamed into the stadium video boards at a time. While fans still had to watch the action on their own televisions, through the Zoom meetings, they were able to watch along with fans and offer their support to their team.
Through the virtual grandstand, fans could be seen and heard, taking part in the collective nature of the highs and lows of sports fandom in a wildly new way.
—FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) May 28, 2020
—Planet Fútbol (@si_soccer) May 28, 2020
—Christian Lykking (@ChrLykking) May 28, 2020
On Twitter, fans were split in their reaction to the novel method of bringing fans into the arena — some thought it charming and brilliant, while others compared it to something out of an episode of "Black Mirror."
—Jo Gunston (@sportsliberated) May 26, 2020
—san justin (@ivorykhan13) May 28, 2020
—JestönH (@JestonH) May 28, 2020
—Maximiliano Bretos (@MaxBretosSports) May 28, 2020
—John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) May 28, 2020
As the sports world begins to resume play after lengthy suspensions caused by COVID-19, leagues are left to weigh how to handle not only bringing fans back into the stadium but also how best to recreate the in-arena experience for fans at home.
Over the weekend, Fox Sports 1's broadcast of Germany's Bundesliga pumped in artificial crowd noise to fill out the aural void of empty stadiums to surprising success. Similar ideas have been hinted at has the NFL, NBA, and NHL all prepare to start their seasons with fans potentially absent from the arenas.
Should this effort from AGF Aarhus prove a success moving forward, it's possible more teams and leagues could adopt some similar models. At the very least, it shows that teams are willing to get creative to provide fans with the action they've missed.
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