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My View: Unusual Week 1
Shooting an NFL football game in an empty stadium.
By Brandon Todd Sep 15, 2020

Unusual — a word I never thought I'd use to describe a Panthers' opener.

The 2020 season kicked off Sunday with players, coaches, and select staff. Still, one thing was missing: The presence of 75,000 fans usually in attendance on a football Sunday. Unfortunately, this wasn't "normal." As the world continues to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of society's norms have been altered. In this case, a major aspect of our beloved Sunday tradition is on hold.


Who would have imagined a Week 1 game could have the atmosphere of a training camp scrimmage? On a typical game day, players use the crowd's energy as fuel during pregame and intros. Sunday's scene was very different. Despite the unusual circumstances, I could still feel the players energy and excitement.


The lack of fans also made for a brand new backdrop. I usually have a sea of different people to decorate the backgrounds of my photos. On Sunday, I had nothing but a sea of blue seats, creating a different aesthetic for many of my shots. I quickly learned that without fans, the seats reflected the sun. That forced me to continuously change my exposure throughout the game, depending on my field position.


I quickly adapted to a lot of changes on Sunday, but I couldn't get used to the lack of crowd noise after a big play. At every football game, you expect fans to go crazy. You don't truly understand the meaning of home-field advantage until your 12th man is no longer there. It was bizarre watching Anderson run in a 75-yard touchdown while hearing only his teammates' cheers on the sideline and a few scattered claps from staff around the stadium.


I think we can all agree that the absence of fans plays a huge part in the game's atmosphere. I can't wait to get them back in the seats!

Go behind-the-scenes with the best photos from the Panthers game against Las Vegas in Week 1.

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