Whichever sport gets you hyped up, I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a weird year for all fans.
With COVID-19 not disappearing anytime soon, teams and sporting arenas have gotten creative, promoting new ways for fans to cheer on their team at a safe distance.
From face masks to hand sanitizing stations, here are some other products that teams are relying on to help the fan experience remain alive.
Gone are the days (for now) of gathering outside of the stadium, cooking hotdogs, and cracking open beers. Many NFL teams are encouraging fans to “homegate”, enjoying the televised game from the safety of their humble abode.
Brands, such as PepsiCo and Tostitos, are giving football fans a slice of the action by sending tailgating products directly to their doorsteps.
The “Tailgate in a Box”, promoted through PepsiCo, encourages fans to enter sweepstakes in hopes of winning a “box” full of items like an outdoor projector and custom cornhole sets. For the chip and dip lovers out there (guacamole and salsa, anyone?), Tostitos will give away motion-activated “FanTrack” bags that play team chants when the chips are poured into a bowl.
Players are also reaping the benefits of branded products, with Oakley providing face shields to teams, including coaches and officials. I call that a win-win for everyone!
If you told me last year we’d be seeing cardboard cutout fans at MLB games, I would have chuckled. But again, 2020 is a year of change and innovation.
For the first time in MLB history, baseball stadiums have been empty. No longer do you hear shouting fans or vendors calling out “hotdogs, get your hotdogs here!” Instead, teams have relied on fan donations towards cardboard cutouts in the seats. These cutouts are made with Correx, a durable material similar to a yard sign.
Now, fans’ cutouts can get a “front row seat” and even sit next to someone’s pet, team mascots, or celebrities.
The Mariners were one of the first to announce their plans for the cutouts, titled the “Seat Fleet”. The A’s also set up multiple cutout options including one that raises funds for an ALS charity supported by A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty, whose mother passed away from the disease.
The NBA took this idea a few steps forward and have screens that show virtual fans’ reactions while watching the games.
From socially-distanced band members strewed across the field to marked off seats, with minimal fans present at the games, college football has also looked a little different these past few weeks.
Officials are using electronic whistles initiated by touch this season, attaching them to their belts. Additionally, you can see branded face masks, face shields, and hand sanitizers throughout the stadiums.
As we all embrace this new normal, it was refreshing to see ESPN’s College GameDay host Lee Corso’s set up at home including the Home Depot-branded desk, cardboard cutouts of the other GameDay hosts and fans, as well as flags, banners, and the LSU Tiger grilling up some delicious grub.
Yes, sporting events look different this year, but teams and even brands have done everything possible to make the fan experience as fun and natural as possible – and to that, I say thank you for helping us feel a small sliver of normalcy during such an uncertain time *stands up and slow claps*.