OPINION: How to replicate the experience of live sports at home


A Philadelphia 76ers fan watches a game against the Indiana Pacers. The 2019-20 NBA season was suspended March 11 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo Illustration by Sam House

Mere months ago, the idea of sports without live audiences sounded utterly ludicrous. How is my favorite team supposed to win if I’m not there verbally defaming the opposing players?

However, many fans have begun to change their tunes. I don’t feel safe in Kroger without donning a hermetically sealed hazmat suit, so I’m probably not ready to inhale spittle from thousands of gasping, screaming people crammed into a giant metal bowl.

Since we will most likely be cheering on our squads while perched atop a La-Z-Boy for the foreseeable future, here are some tips on how to recreate an authentic stadium experience right in your living room.

Seating arrangements

Furniture companies have made millions selling couches tailor-made for watching the big game. Last I checked, no set of bleachers came equipped with reclining seats or cup holders. If we want our rear ends to feel as if they never left the stadium, we’ll need to get crafty.

First, simply saw off the back of your chair, then remove any cushions between your hindquarters and the rigid frame underneath. For complete accuracy, have a friend splash some unidentified liquid on the seat so you can really question whether it’s better to just stand.

Soon, your spine assumes the shape of a massive curly fry. You may have gone numb everywhere south of the gluteus maximus, but a couple pinched nerves won’t stop you from feeling the excitement in the air.

The T-shirt toss

Your pulse races as a bundle of cotton soars your way. You muscle past the other knuckle-dragging savages and seize your prize in a blacked-out blur of adrenaline. Is that blood on your hands, or merely fresh dye that’s had less than an hour soak into the coarse fabric? 

You might not have the wardrobe on hand to match that distributed in the arena, but all you have to do is pay a visit to your local Goodwill. Consignment stores tend to be the true final landing spot for novelty apparel fired from a T-shirt cannon.

When you’ve acquired the requisite clothing, it’s simply a matter of finding someone to throw it in your general vicinity. Or not. Chances are the projectile doesn’t land anywhere near you, and you’re left thinking wistfully of the extra-extra-large waste of closet space that could have been yours.

The food

Concession stands offer an ample variety of culinary delights, from grease coated with salt to salt doused with grease. Unfortunately, as easy as it is to grill a bratwurst yourself, game day is not complete unless you are spending far too much on your meal. 

It isn’t enough for the deep-fried delicacies to clog my arteries and put me on the fast track to heart disease. I want to see my wallet suffer, too. Only after you’ve made a small dent in your retirement savings should you consider adding condiments.

Ketchup has no business on a frankfurter, frankly. But nobody said flavor was a priority, so go ahead and waterboard the poor sausage in sugary tomato sludge. Once your hot dog looks like a war crime on a bun, you can chow down while your money burns.

The agony of the ‘Dance Cam’

As last summer’s hottest pop song booms through a loudspeaker, a cameraman pans over the audience in search of a member who won’t seize his seven seconds of fame to do something lewd or suggestive.

After deciding most of the able-bodied attendees are either too inebriated or too bare-chested, the cameraman settles on an unfortunate spectator who hasn’t the slightest desire to pop, drop or lock it.

The older gentleman in row C barely knows where he is, and he certainly hasn’t heard of Post Malone. The crowd collectively winces as the camera lingers on its motionless victim for a few moments too long.

It’s easy to replicate this awkwardness from the discomfort of your own home. Try calling a distant relative, putting on a pair of wet socks or biting down on a fork really hard. Just make sure you have Lizzo’s “Juice” blaring the whole time.

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