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Common Tread

Yamaha builds "remote cheering" system for empty events

Jun 15, 2020

As racing and other professional sports gradually return, most fans will be watching from their homes. That means races and games without crowds or cheering, and that’s going to sound… eerie.

Yamaha turned to their sound division for a solution, and their Remote Cheerer system might just work. Truly a product of its time, huh?

Yamaha’s sound division built an app that allows fans to react to an event in real time, using a soundboard of options like generic cheering and clapping, I’m thrilled that they included booing, because a stadium without booing would be even weirder than an empty one. 

Amplified Yamaha speakers in the stands represent the remote viewers' reactions. The sound of a crowd is generated by the fans, if indirectly. Plato would have had a field day with the philosophical arguments here. Is this cheering and booing any less “real” than what we had pre-pandemic? Yamaha thinks cheering is possible without people, and I think Plato would agree, once somebody explained phones and speakers to him.

Apparently, the Remote Cheerer was enough to convince Shizuoka Stadium’s Keisuke Matsubayashi at a test in Japan. “At one point during the system field test, I closed my eyes and it felt like the cheering fans were right there in the stadium with me. That's when I knew that this system had the potential to cheer players on even in a stadium of this size.” 

As sports within and well beyond motorcycling adapt to events without crowds, the Remote Cheerer (what a name!) could play a big role in keeping fans connected. Of course, cheering fans are much more of an integral part of an event during the action in a baseball game or soccer match than in a motorcycle race. A Superbike rider roaring through Rainey Curve at Laguna Seca wouldn't hear even the most enthusiastically cheering fans. But the biggest professional motorcycle racing series in the United States does take place in stadiums: the AMA Monster Energy Supercross series.

“Racing without fans in attendance is certainly not what we prefer as they are so integral to the overall energy of the live event and racing experience,” said Dave Prater, Senior Director of Operations – Two Wheel, Feld Entertainment, Inc., which runs Supercross. “The vibe is certainly different without fans, but I am sure that I can speak for everyone in saying that we are just happy to be back racing and finishing our championship.”

Supercross crowds
It's not normal, but it's a start. Feld Entertainment photo.

“We created a section inside the stadium called the SX FLY Racing Fan Zone where fans can show their support for their favorite athlete by creating a poster of their likeness,” continued Prater.  “Fans can visit SXSuperfan.com, upload an image and then we’ll create a poster and provide them with a seat inside the stadium. We have been featuring this section of Super Fans on the television broadcast and through our digital channels and it has been very well received. Nothing can make up for fans not being here and the energy they bring, but we hope the seven made-for-TV races have brought some normalcy back to their lives during this very trying time.”

[applause]