I recently had the privilege of attending an Atlanta Falcons game in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Of course, before judgement flies at me, I was equipped with a mask and practiced social distancing. Also, for the Falcons fans, Emory Healthcare had provided (nice) face masks as well.
The new stadium is a jewel in Atlanta. Arthur Blank, the City of Atlanta, and whomever else had a hand in this monstrous project is to be commended. It is a first class facility.
There were in my estimation +/- 10,000 fans gathered there as opposed to the 65,000+ that would normally be in attendance. This made traffic extremely light and the stadium itself was not crowded either.
I point out the size of the crowd because the sounds coming from the stands seemed to be disproportionate to the sounds I heard. As a member of my high school marching band, I've been on plenty of football fields and am accustomed to what sounds come from a lively Friday night under the lights. Also, I've been to a number of professional sporting events (pre-COVID) that were filled at or near capacity. I'll be the first to admit that I am not a classically trained acoustic consultant or a noise expert, but despite what my wife would have you to believe, I am not hard of hearing either.
Of course, I'm one part preacher, one part philosopher, and one part commentator so it doesn't take much to get my wheels turning and my opine writing hands to typing. The beauty of a blog is that I can write, wax eloquent, and opine all day long and you are free to (or not to) read along.
The sounds of the audience cheer seemed to be much louder than could be made by those in attendance. I asked my buddy, Brandon, who had joined me for the game if he thought it possible that they were pumping in stadium crowd sounds to help make the experience feel more legitimate for the players, the fans, or both. He'll be the first to admit that he is also not a classically trained acoustic consultant or a noise expert--and that his wife probably says the same thing about his hearing. But our non-expert fan opinion was they were, in fact, pumping in noise. This is not a value judgement, but our conclusion on the matter.
Then, my wheels started spinning. Of course, today marks exactly one week prior to the Presidential Election. You can't listen to the radio or watch TV without being inundated with political advertisements. You can't check your social media pages without having Facebook tell you that you need to vote or having your friends cast their political science degree (granted by YouTube University)
postulations here and there. Driving down the road, there are campaign signs for this candidate and that one. Occasionally, you'll actually see a candidate on the corner waving a sign asking for your vote. Somehow, these folks have even found my cell phone number and are texting me. All of this is noise, inescapable noise.
In fact, I very much appreciated a meme that was circulating on Facebook notifying them that the poster had, indeed, voted and no longer needed to be reminded to do so.
As I mentioned, I have been on the field and on the sidelines. There's no doubt that a well placed cheer, song from the band, or encouragement from the crowd can provide just the boost for the home team to kick it in to overdrive. There's something to be said for the hosts to care about the fan experience and provide that realistic vibe for their fans.
I had a great time at the game despite the Falcons literally losing it in the last 2 seconds of the game. I can't say that my fan experience was greatly enhanced by the pumped in sound, but I can say it was so loud that I had a hard time hearing my friend to carry on a conversation.
When taken into the context of the current landscape sitting just before what some have termed "the most important election in our time", I am beginning to think the strategy is not to provide solid information, but rather "if you can't convince them, confuse them." It should be noted this is happening on both sides of the field.
A citizen must find a place to process the information that he or she ingests to make an educated decision. Gone are the days (or at least should be) of straight down ticket voting for the Ds or the Rs. Now, each seat--rather for city council, school board, governor, or president should be seriously examined on who can represent your concerns and interest best.
When noise fills the room and takes all of the air out, it's hard to concentrate much less make an informed decision. We no longer have the Walter Cronkites of the world who would read the news and allow each recipient to make their own value judgements. We have to find strategies to cut through the noise. We need a litmus test to determine how acidic a candidate is. And more than that, we need better candidates that don't force individuals to choose between the least of two evils.
We can do better than this. We deserve better than the loudest used car salesman tactics that can be spun in a campaign strategy session (by the way, I ONLY BUY used cars--so no offense here). Our democracy demands the very best that we have to offer to her. Each man and woman should and must vote his or her conscience with the information with which they have to make it.
So where they pumping in sound? Brandon and I think so. Is this election season pumping in the sound? Most definitely! Do your part, study your candidates and their positions, and make an informed decision as to where the honor of your trust and your vote is cast.
And PLEASE tell Facebook that I have already voted so it will stop harassing me!