So far, I'm afraid, we're not getting a very good or true indicator as to what sporting events without fans might look and sound like in the New Normal.

Maybe NASCAR and tournament golf aren't the best guinea pigs.

And, to be clear here, we're talking about watching it on TV.

I'm sure being at the events is totally different.

To be honest, I've never been to a NASCAR race. I'm told it's pretty loud, what with sometimes upwards of 100,000 fans playing Hold My Beer while screaming "Turn Left, Junior, Keep Turning Left!"

But — and this is just an educated guess — I can't imagine the drivers hear any of it over the din of their own carburetors or fuel injectors or whatever automotive contraption it is that makes all that racket.

You don't really see the fans that much during the telecast anyway, sometimes to the benefit of everybody.

So if it's strictly a made-for-television diversion you're talking about, NASCAR can keep right on roaring.

But I thought the fans, or lack thereof, would be more noticeable in golf than it has been so far.

Maybe it just showed how bad we needed a live sports fix, but that Tiger-Phil/Peyton-Brady golf gimmick was way more entertaining and interesting than we had any right to expect.

For that matter, the weeks since the real PGA Tour resumed in a fan vacuum looks reasonably like the golf you'd normally get from your big screen.

Oh, it's different, for sure.

But not all in bad ways.

Oh, the players notice it.

For one thing, they play the course as it was designed, without the bumpers and buffers and backstops that fans and hospitality tents provide.

They play the ball as it lies — and without fans it often lies a lot farther from the fairway than it would if the You-da-man crowd was lining those fairways, always ready to take one off the skull.

They're finding spots on some of these courses that, though the PGA Tour didn't know they existed, are hardly uncharted territory for the usual daily-fee customers.

And the rough hasn't always been trampled flat by the foot traffic.

They don't get to hear the roar of the crowd perhaps.

But, in the din of silence, we also get to hear a lot more of the bickering and arguing between player and caddy, even without miking them up.

Best of all, we get to hear many of their naughtier words, which makes it seem even more like your weekend foursome.

I doubt anybody is learning any new phrases, but maybe some new combinations are being introduced to tender ears.

All of which makes it almost a wash for the television viewer on the couch.

Certainly live golf with no fans is better than replay golf with them.

But golf maybe can get away with it, at least on TV, which is where most of us see it.

In golf, however, there's no home team to root for. There's no crowd to silence. There's no joy in seeing YOUR team on the road, goading the hated rival's fans into booing their own at home.

It will be more interesting to see how that works when Major League Baseball opens later this month, possibly, maybe likely, sans the fans.

And — you knew all along where this was heading — what does it mean for football?

It's hard to imagine football without crowd shots and, in particular, crowd noise.

If that's the only way to get it, you'll take it.

But I'm guessing it will really take some getting used to.

For that matter, if there are no fans, do you really need to open, say, Tiger Stadium, with 102,000 empty, silent seats?

Why not just televise the game from the indoor practice facility?

OK, probably not.

I'm thinking about the absurdity of a home linebacker backed up to his goal line, wildly flailing his arms to encourage nonexistent fans to help the home lads out with some noise.

Maybe, for TV anyway, Hollywood could help.

They can do amazing things with electronics these days.

Maybe some canned shots of fans going crazy or crying, whatever, just to insert into those key moments of the game.

They've talked about canned noise for the stadium.

I'm sure there are ways to recreate the acoustics of any stadium, but we're looking for authenticity here.

Vanderbilt doesn't get to pipe Auburn's crowd noise in for its "atmosphere."

Each home stadium gets to submit a dozen or so noise scenarios from its files, while the visiting teams must search the audio archives for moments the home fans are displeased or perhaps you get that random roar from the small pocket of visitors.

Maybe the conference office could provide a neutral observer to provide and crank up what's appropriate for the action on the field.

Just spitballing here. You got any better ideas?


Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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