Like many professional leagues and teams, Marist Athletics is using the inability to have fans at games and turning it into an interactive viewership. Harrison Baker, the Associate Athletics Director & Director of External Affairs, has been leading the effort to include cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands for the upcoming basketball season.
The idea is for the cutouts to engage both students on campus and the fans who aren’t able to come to campus and cheer for Marist as they usually would. Baker has teamed up with Red Fox Club members, as well as an alumni group to gauge “interest off-campus” and “connect them to the game” while they are unable to support the Red Foxes from the stands of McCann Arena.
With many professional teams having exercised this idea already and receiving a strong response, Baker notes that it is only validation for Marist to go through with it. It generates a great school spirit both on and off campus for the season. As a low-cost option, it allows for greater outreach to season ticket holders and alumni who can’t be on campus. Baker calls it an “olive branch to keep people involved.”
In terms of how the cutouts are actually going to work, they will be placed on the side that the camera broadcasts, occupying roughly 500 seats. Baker doesn’t know exactly how many they will fill, but there are plans to make them fairly interactive to those watching from home. The idea of having a ‘Fan of the Game’ would, in hopes, boost live streams in a positive, reciprocal manner. This contest unfolds with the camera zooming in on one of the fan cutouts and therefore naming them the Fan of the Game. This winner will then most likely be receiving a prize for being chosen.
Each cutout costs $75, is being printed locally, and only takes four to six days to make. Profits from the cutouts will be used to provide COVID-19 testing for athletes as their seasons begin, and throughout the planned schedule, as well as portions going to the Red Fox Club.
When the time comes for fans to return to the stands and the stadium, Baker admits that he doesn’t know where the cutouts will go. Nonetheless, he is excited to get this off the ground and running, and “the chips will fall where they may”.
Edited by Bridget Reilly & Sam DiGiovanni
Featured image from Marist Athletics