If you traveled back in time to last summer and told someone that the upcoming NBA season would end up being played inside a secure bubble at Disney World, they’d probably think you were fucking crazy—especially if it was the Terminator variety of time travel where you lose all of your clothes while barreling through the time-space continuum.
Sports have had to do a lot of adapting over the past several months in order to get things going again, and while coming up with a solution, most leagues came to terms with the fact that it was impossible to play games in front of tens of thousands of fans.
Smaller events have also been impacted, and when the NFL Draft was held virtually, people were devastated that the annual tradition of booing Roger Goodell wouldn’t be possible. Thankfully, Bud Light dreamed up a solution in the form of virtual booing, which wasn’t ideal but still better than the concept of allowing the commissioner to go unabused.
Now, the NBA is getting in on the action with the help of the wonders of modern technology. According to CNN, the league’s app now has a button spectators resigned to watching from outside the bubble can press to “cheer” for their team of choice, which will be combined with the input of their fellow fans and reflected in the intensity of the noise the league will pump through the speakers during games.
The league has also commissioned Microsoft to erect 17-foot-tall screens that wrap around most of the court and plans to insert the likenesses of hundreds of fans at a time to occupy the virtual stands using video conferencing technology.
There will presumably be some measures in place to make sure LeBron James doesn’t get the same treatment Gerrit Cole got at the World Series last year, but still, the potential is really endless. I don’t have any particularly creative ideas for how to exploit this but I have faith my fellow fans will figure out a way to make whoever thought this was a good idea to regret the decision to institute it almost immediately.