It is absolutely unheard of to be watching major league sports on television and not to see fans in the crowd. Even at your least popular match up in sports, the stadiums, arenas, and ballparks are always full. Due to the Covid-19 virus, sporting events are being played fanless this year and it really is a strange sight to see. With MLB being the first sport to play and air on live tv without their fans, they have come up with a created way to “fill” the stadium and get the fans involved.
The MLB Opening Day was on July 27, 2020. The athletes and team staff entered the ballpark, but that was it. Then the idea of cutouts occurred. Teams all over the MLB are beginning to fill the empty stands with the cardboard cutout program, in which fans can pay to have a cardboard likeness of themselves in the stands during home games. The price of the cutout varies team by team as does where your cutout “sits.” This unique idea provides a way for fans to still interact with their favorite team while allowing the teams to bring in some revenue. Some of the teams like the Boston Red Sox have a rather high price for their cutout but it includes more. According to MLB.com “A $500 donation to the Red Sox Foundation will yield you a fan cutout that will sit atop the Green Monster for a portion of the season. If a Red Sox home run ball hits the cutout, that fan will receive the autographed home run ball, two Green Monster tickets for a 2021 home game, a custom Red Sox jersey, and a video replay of the home run. Proceeds are donated to the COVID-19 relief in Massachusetts.” Other teams such as the New York Mets are offering free cutouts to season ticket holders who have renewed their tickets for the 2021 season. At the end of the season, the fans will get the cutout sent back to them to keep as a souvenir. As you watch the games, you will see some “trolling” fans in the stands. Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, put on an appearance at Citi Field to haunt the Mets in their own ballpark. Many celebrities have been spotted across the MLB parks as well as some important tributes to late employees and fans of the team. This clever idea keeps the excitement for the fans alive and allows them to interact with their favorite teams.
Although 2020 has been plagued with the coronavirus, we are seeing creative ways that the sports industry are keeping the spirits of players and fans alive. Baseball is the only major sport that is being televised right now, but we have no doubt that the cut outs will continue as new sport seasons start. This idea of the cutouts is both beneficial to the fans and the teams as it creates a bridge of involvement for the fans while giving the illusions of normalcy to the viewer of a “full” ballpark. We hope to see more unique ways for fan interaction with their favorite teams as the season progresses, but for now we are just happy to watch live sports!