The NFL is going to see big attendance changes in 2020 and players may not be as motivated.
There doesn’t have to be a lot of fans in the stands to make a lot of noise in the NFL, our friends at DolfansNYC prove that every year. That being said, the NFL is going to be a lot quieter this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow and as a result, the NFL is making changes to how games will be played, more importantly, and specifically, how they will be viewed. Teams are not going to see max-capacity crowds this year. Not a single football team will have full stadiums.
In Baltimore, officials have already said that capacity of fewer than 14,000 people will be allowed into the stadium. Those seats likely made up of season ticket holders. In Los Angeles, the two season ticket holders have been given the option to opt-out for the year. O.k. they have more than two season ticket holders but the rest is true.
Consider that the Chargers play in a stadium that seats 27,000 people. If they cut that in half they are down to 14,000 but chances are they will need to cut more as California is seeing larger increases in positive cases. They could play in front of less than 10,000. That still would be more than the Philadelphia Eagles will play in front of.
The Eagles announced that no fans will be permitted to attend home games this year. The first team to announce such a huge measure. That brings us to the point of motivation. I know, it took a while to get here.
Can NFL players play motivated football when they are not being cheered to deafening levels?
In Kansas City, home-field advantage means home-field advantage. Arrowhead Stadium boasts as being the loudest in the NFL but reductions in attendance will surely quiet them. Will it sway the players?
Dating all the way back to high-school, players can get really pumped and juiced for a sports game just by the screaming fans. Run out of the tunnel to thunderous applause and fireworks and suddenly your adrenaline shoots up another notch or more. Tight game, a big catch, a touchdown, and the crowd goes…
That tends to lift the defense for the subsequent drive, a little more leg in the kick-off, and more speed from the outside gunners. Again, adrenaline. Now, possibly gone, or at best reduced. No Lambeau leaps, no sharpies hidden beneath the cover on the goal post or in a sock. No taking a swig of beer from the guy in the front row.
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Cameras will now play an important part of the game. That is the players’ interaction with the fans at home. That is the yelling into the lens with the hopes of stirring emotion but the lens doesn’t cheer back. They don’t clap, they don’t applaud.
This will be the 2020 NFL season and while most teams will have a reduced number of fans in the stands, at some point that reduced number could go the route of the Eagles. Should the NFL implement attendance limits in an effort to make home-field advantage fair? That is another debate that we will cover later.
For now, no matter how you plan to watch the games, if there are any, will be odd. It will be quieter and how the players react will be just as interesting. Can they lift themselves up to the same level of showmanship? Do the sack celebrations and the 4th and 1 stops energize you without the applause from the stands? We will find out.