For the past few years, we’ve periodically suggested that the NFL could enhance the in-stadium experience by allowing fans to purchase NASCAR-style radios that would allow them to listen to the communications between coach and quarterback.
Finally, the NFL could be moving in that direction.
According to Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal, the league wants to put microphones on players and coaches as part of the push to make fans choose going to games over staying home and watching them on TV. While there’s no specific timetable, Kaplan characterizes the situation as more about “when” than “if.”
“NASCAR’s never hesitated to let fans hear the conversation between the spotters and the drivers,” Jaguars president Mark Lamping said. “I would love for fans to get to know our players better, a lot better. They know them a little bit, but they don’t get to see a lot of them when they are actually competing because they have pads and helmets on.”
While Cowboys COO Stephen Jones says the use of microphones needs to happen sooner rather than later, the NFL doesn’t seem compelled to move quickly.
“Not exactly a pressing matter or anything that will need to be discussed for awhile,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Kaplan via email.
The extra audio could be used only in stadiums, or it could be shared with broadcasters. If the goal is to make people want to be at games, it needs to be used in stadiums only.
The broader challenge will be to get the players and teams to agree to it. Players don’t particularly like it, and the potential for strategic disadvantage will be considerable.
But the owners tend to get what they want, and if they decide they want to harvest audio and use it in real time in order to fill stadiums, it’ll happen.