Editor Letter: Fake Crowd Noise

Manufactured murmurs and other observations about the pandemic.
Barry Glenn


One of these days I hope I’m able to recall with a measure of humor one of the stranger things that has arisen out of this coronavirus pandemic: the concept of fake crowd noise at sporting events devoid of fans.

It seems a bit silly that one would need to hear manufactured cheers to enjoy a televised game. But as I watch Tampa Bay Rays baseball broadcasts, it has become somewhat comforting listening to what, most of the time, is a background murmur, rising and falling depending on what the home team does. Throw in a few yells here and there and you have the makings of a weird phenomenon that has taken hold in the NBA and NFL as well.

For baseball, MLB provided all the teams with iPads loaded with various crowd noises so that, according to a recent Sports Illustrated article, “a little tapping and scrolling was all it took to play the proper noises.’’ SI pointed out that the players need the noise because it’s too jarring to play in a silent ballpark, and the managers need it so their conversations can’t be overheard by the other team.

And I guess we fans need it too. Perhaps it gives us some connection to pastimes we took for granted. Now all that’s left is for someone to market a personal version of the crowd noise package, one that can be programmed to cheer at various levels of loudness as you strive to finish that five-mile walk or complete a challenging task for your boss. I mean, doesn’t everybody need some crowd murmuring in the background while delivering a presentation on Zoom?

In the meantime, we soldier on, trying to make sense of the upheaval throughout our land. There are many individuals out there trying to guide us through it, and in this issue, we profile 18 of them in areas that include government, social justice, education, business, law enforcement and charity, as well as standing up for victims of abuse. Leading the list are Jerry and Val Demings, who in their respective positions as Orange County mayor and U.S. congresswoman have been key decision-makers during 2020. Writer Dan Tracy has crafted a fascinating profile of the power couple.

Also this month, we recall Shaquille O’Neal’s glory years with the Magic, along with his tumultuous departure, through the eyes of Richie Adubato, a coach with the team during the 1990s. Adubato, who also was Magic radio commentator for 15 years, has written a new book with Peter Kerasotis, whose profiles of sports figures you’ve read frequently in our magazine. Check out the excerpt from Havin’ a Ball: My Improbable Basketball Journey.

In Food & Drink, we sample pitmaster Chuck Cobb’s magnificent fare of brisket, ribs and  more at Git-N-Messy BBQ, which was in a Citgo minimart but just moved to a new location; plus we have the latest on the expansion of Gideon’s Bakehouse to Disney Springs. Elsewhere, we check out the chic offerings at six boutiques at The Mall at Millenia; visit the spiritualist town of Cassadaga; and explore the hair-raising occupation of a herpetologist (think snakes). And in Extra Pulp, Laura Anders Lee teaches her kids how to play poker and imparts some teachable moments about the hands, good and bad, that life deals us.

Finally, watch for the results of our Pizza Bracket Challenge in the November issue. We began with 32 restaurants and, through reader voting, the competitors left standing for the finals were Pizza Bruno and Prato. Check out our profiles of the winner (yeah, you’ll have to wait to see who it is), plus all the other pizza makers that were chosen to compete.

Categories: Column, Home Page Features