One drumbeat, one word from the announcer, and the crowd is chanting: defense, defense!
The home team melts as their opponents approach and let the basketball slip past, straight into the hoop. Applause from the other side.
The announcer tries again. Make some noise. Louder, louder!
The crowd stirs and yells, following the prompts of signs popping up in the corners as the home team struggles to score. The players pass and dribble the ball down the court, sneak it around their opponents, and miss. The cheers fade.
Frustrated fans want the ball in their hands. Imagine, in the park at home, how easy it is to weave through friends and toss the ball in. How thrilling to be in control.
In compensation for being stuck on the sidelines, ticket holders can get screentime, too. Yell a little louder for a team they might have lost faith in. Dance a bit, and catch that T-shirt as it soars into the section with the happiest crowd. Then the camera stays on them, until someone else shouts louder and dances better.
All of this is what they were told to make — noise. The screens could easily flash another word or the announcer could say one word the crowd mindlessly repeats. One plus one is three.
The chants find strength in volume, but float around rather than determine the game’s outcome. For only the one with the ball in the court can score.
Back on the floor, the point guard grabs the rebound and spikes a three-pointer.