Matthew Breault, Assistant Sports Editor
The 2020 NFL season started as two star quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes for the Kansas City Chiefs and Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans squared off on Sept. 9 for Thursday Night Football. The game was reported to be what was a record low in terms of viewership across the United States.
The season will look quite different compared to the previous seasons. The games will feature Sunday games in front of empty and limited crowds; similar to the format the MLB has taken to resume their season.
Despite the record low viewership, NFL fans from Utica College are still planning on being engaged with the season after watching the first two weeks.
Sophomore Abe Mendez says he will be tuning in every Sunday because he wants to know how his favorite team, the Houston Texans will do this season.
“I am very excited to see how the season will turn out after Houston traded star wide receiver Deandre Hopkins,” Mendez said. “I also believe this season will be the reason whether or not the General Manager Bill O’Brien gets fired.”
Mendez is also very confident in Houston despite the issues with the general manager.
“I think Houston can win it all this year,” Mendez said.
Sophomore Jordon Kimbrough said he will be watching the NFL season because he believes it is important for people to enjoy themselves, especially with everything happening this year.
“It’s so hard to turn on the television without being bombarded by politics and news about the pandemic,” Kimbrough said. “Every weekend millions of fans around the world watch their teams play. We need that unity now more than ever.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season will look different as teams will play in front of stadiums that are empty or limited capacity.
Junior Craig Gazzilli said the empty crowds won’t affect how the season is viewed by some fans.
“I feel like the empty crowds wouldn’t affect people that truly love the game of football because they’re watching to see their team play, not to see how rowdy the crowds are as they chant and scream,” Gazzilli said. “I honestly think that only the fans who aren’t that into football would see empty crowds as a reason why they shouldn’t watch since the atmosphere isn’t the same.”
First year student Zeke Prince believes that the lack of fans makes him feel more interested in watching the games.
“The fact that these teams are playing in front of empty stadiums makes me more intrigued to watch the game because it feels like practice for most players and there isn’t any home field advantage besides the turf,” Prince said. “These factors prove which team is better and which team needs the support of the fans for a momentum swing as an advantage.”
Another element that the NFL is adding to the stadiums is artificial crowd noise to help the players and fans watching from home a more “authentic experience.” This was something incorporated in the Champions League, more notably the final between PSG and Bayern Munich recently.
“At first I thought no fan reactions would make the big plays seem less entertaining, but the NFL did a good job adding crowd noise,” Mendez said. “Although it’s not the same, it’s still something, and without the crowd noise, you can hear the players talk and it’s very entertaining.”
The NFL is one of the many sports that are playing this September. Due to the pandemic, Other sports like the NHL and NBA are playing their postseasons now instead of a few months ago.
Although there are extra sports on TV to watch, the NFL is still promoting and advertising their season like they normally would.
“The NFL is using their star power for advertisements and partnerships to still generate numbers and promote their business,” Prince said. “This is very smart for them now, and for the future.”
According to sources, the NFL is the most profitable sports league in the world and some believe they don’t necessarily have to promote as much because many already know what’s going on.
“I haven’t really noticed any additional attempts to promote their season,” Gazzilli said. “I guess it’s just business as usual because they are promoting their season as much as they usually do.”
Not only are TV commercials a way people see advertising, but social media has become very prominent in advertising and this helps the season. The majority of advertisements for the NFL are seen through apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“I do recall seeing many “football is back” commercials recently, but social media has played a huge role as well in advertising for the NFL,” Kimbrough said.