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Gary’s Blog: That Empty Feeling

By Gary Dickman.

Another surreal experience. What am I talking about? Well, it was the first home game of the season for the University of Hawai’i football team at Aloha Stadium. I know we’re getting a new stadium, and people seem to enjoy putting down this current Aloha Stadium, but I’ve always enjoyed this venue. But I’ve never experienced a night in Halawa like last Saturday night. It was a game held without fans.

By now, I’ve seen probably 100 games on TV without fans, listened on radio to the games with the pumped-in crowd noise. And it still felt very strange being in this stadium watching a Division 1 football game. It was definitely a reminder on what this year’s been mostly about. The pumped-in crowd noise was very interesting. I was curious on how the noise would feel being in the stadium. First, it just seemed strange. I do give credit, though. It didn’t feel like it came through the speakers, it felt like it came from all over the stadium. Maybe the setup has you subconsciously thinking it’s real, instead of coming through speakers, I don’t know. There were several times when as I looked at a roster, or checking my notes, I heard the crowd cheer loudly and looked up as to see why. It was really interesting.

The cardboard cutouts of 400 or so fans were interesting. I wonder if they have a cardboard bathroom for them to use. I know some of you are wondering about this, and so I checked, and these cutouts will remain in these seats until the final game. They aren’t stored anywhere or removed until the next game. No band or cheerleaders, which makes sense. But I don’t understand why the scoreboard flashed messages all night as if there were fans there. One message was how to alert security if there was a problem. Another was what to do in an emergency, how to exit, etc. Another warned us about throwing objects on the field. I kept waiting for the kiss cam. Oh, by the way, Hawai’i won the game, 39-33.

Imagine as you grew up, that on your birthday every year, you never had to go to school. That’s every kid’s dream, isn’t it? Well, my Mom got to enjoy that luxury every year as she was born on November 11th, Veterans Day. To me, they might as well be celebrating November 11th as a holiday because it’s her Birthday. Mom turns 96 this year. I know there aren’t many more trips for me back east to visit and stay with her, and go to a few games as well. On the days on my annual vacation when you didn’t have a game to go, my Mom and I would go shopping or eating out, I even took her to several Broadway plays, which I never thought I’d ever attend. Me at a Broadway play, it’ll never happen. But at 96, no more plays to go to, and less outings as well. COVID-19 took away my trip to see her this year. I hope it doesn’t do that next year. Happy Birthday, Mom.

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