As the world gears up to adjust to the new normal, built around social distancing and a comparatively stagnant sports world, there is one aspect of NBA experience which is at greater risk. It is the courtside experience being off-limits, and nothing comes close to the adrenaline rush while witnessing all the action first hand. Post COVID-19, a lot of things are not going to be the same. Courtside seating will be one of those.
Since UFC has already returned to action, the question remains as to what is going to happen with the NBA seating arrangements? NBA has already resumed the 2019-20 season back in July last year. As for the 2020-21 NBA regular season, it began in December 22, 2021 and could go till May 16, 2021. The league will have strict health and safety protocols to deal with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. For obvious health reasons, there will be limited number of fans or no fan assembly for some games. So, yes, fans will be away from live action, but that does not mean they have to miss any of it. To make up for the physical absence, NBA and Microsoft have teamed for the virtual fan sign up, giving some NBA fans the opportunity of being featured on video boards.
What is NBA virtual fan sign up?
This pandemic has been all about change. On the flip side for NBA lovers, it has taken fandom to another level. NBA games are known to feature the fans on the much-popular 17-feet video boards, which are located behind the team’s benches. The video board frequently displays fans in the background during the game.
NBA has decided to give high-priority to featuring fans during the broadcast. What makes this entire process interesting is the fact that becoming an NBA virtual fan is free, which means fans will not have to pay a dime to register or access. The sign-up process is easy as well. The entire process will be detailed out below. It must be noted that there are only 320 slots available for fans. Therefore, NBA has decided to let individual teams pick the fans who will receive an invitation to become digital fans. This makes the entire process all the more exciting because not everyone will get to be a part of the shindig. However, if you do get invited, you will likely find yourself sitting next to someone renowned. The very famous 11-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion Chris Bosh recently made an appearance virtually. Even coach and former player Kerry Kittles showed up as a fan.
Steps to follow
Becoming a part of this once in a lifetime experience is effortless. All you need to do is follow some easy steps and join the league of elite fan-family. To reserve a seat, fans need to sign up on the individual team’s website. Teams like Pelicans and Pacers have simple sign-up form on their respective websites. Other teams like the Celtics have been reaching out to the season ticket holders and the families/friends of players. The process for registration for each team can change as the season progresses. If you successfully register and receive an invitation you will be able to join and watch the game. Note that if the seats have been filled, the team will no longer accept new submissions.
Every participant who is chosen for the experience must have a computer or a device that has Microsoft Teams installed. If you have downloaded it already, you are good to go. Fans who are yet to download can head over to this link to get the download started. Once the application is installed, use your username and password which will be sent to your email. Please note that if you already had a Microsoft Teams application on your desktop and you had logged in before, you will need to sign out and log-in again with the credentials provided to you on your email ID.
Now that you have logged in, head over to the left-hand navigation panel and click on the “calendar icon” and double click on the game listed on the calendar. It must be noted that you might need to change the settings on the calendar depending on the time of the week. If it is the weekend, you will have to change the setting from ‘Work Week’ to ‘Week’. However, the meeting will be activated only when 60 minutes are remaining for the game to start. When you see the game invitation, you will need to click on the “join” button. You are advised to optimize the settings before the game begins. You are also advised to find a spot where there is adequate light. You don’t want the players to stare at a black blob.
After you click on the “join now” button, you will not be able to instantly enter the game. You will be asked to wait in the lobby, virtual one, of course. In due course, the moderator will admit you. You will be required to stay in the meeting and wait for instructions. At last, you will be able to customize the experience in terms of viewing. You can click on “fit to frame” to view the game feed on your screen. If you look at your top bar, you will be able to see “three dots”. An option titled “together mode” will appear on your screen. Upon clicking this view, your fan section will appear, which will be displayed on the digital walls surrounding the court and live-streamed on TV. How amazing is that!
The Do’s and Don’ts
Like the real game, the virtual experience has it’s do’s and don’ts. As a virtual fan, you are advised to be at your best behavior and avoid offensive or obscene gestures that will disallow your participation. Each seat will require its own valid email address. And without the NBA Virtual Seat Acknowledgement & Authorisation waiver, you wont be able to join the game. The entire set-up has hall-monitors or moderators. It is advised to not disappear from the seat for an extended period as the moderators might reassign your seat. Do center your camera so your face is in the middle of the display, and do not enable a custom background.