Sports franchises across the globe have struggled with how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. In some places, like the United States, sporting events for the most part haven’t occurred at all. In other places, like Japan, the games have been going forward, but without any spectators due to contagion concerns. And that raises a question: what do you do, if anything, to substitute for the fans in the stands? Do you play the games in eerie, empty, silent stadiums? Or, like some Korean teams have done, do you put cardboard cutouts of fans in the seats?
A Japanese team, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, took a different approach: dancing robots and robot dogs.
The YouTube clip above shows a recent performance of the choreographed moves of jersey-wearing robots and a number of ballcap-wearing, four-legged, black-and-yellow machines (which are supposed to be dogs). The annoying song they are “dancing” to is apparently a kind of theme song for the Hawks, and the moves they are performing are normally performed by human fans. The whole thing comes across as pretty creepy to me. Is the future of live sports a future of dancing robot dogs? And I thought furry mascots like Slider were annoying!
One good thing about this: after watching the robots and robot dogs cut a rug, I’ll never feel embarrassed to dance at a wedding again.