A Football Fan’s Guide to Being the MVP of the NFL’s First Virtual Season

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In a world turned upside down by Coronavirus the NFL has made one thing clear: Football must go on. The beloved sport will look different this year, but sports fans can take solace in knowing that there will still be refs to yell at, stats to read, and games to watch. Although in-person gatherings like tailgates and watch parties aren’t advisable during the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways for football fans to share the sport they love with the people they care about. Keep reading for tips and tricks that will make this season as safe and exciting as possible. 

Celebrate the Football Community Without Contracting COVID:

Host Virtual Watch Parties

By now, everyone is familiar with Zoom, the popular video conferencing platform that has found its footing as one of the most popular methods of communicating during the pandemic. In addition to its applications in the office and classroom, Zoom can be used to watch NFL games with friends and family. Simply use Zoom’s screen sharing feature to share the live-streamed game using Watch Together, a partnership between the NFL and Verizon Media.  A word to the wise: if you’re going to be screaming at the game, warn earbud users ahead of time to avoid splitting headaches.   


Another virtual alternative to your traditional watch party is Microsoft Teams. Like Zoom, Microsoft Teams is a video conferencing service that allows you to share your screen with others. However, Teams has additional features that could spice up your watch party game. Members within a team can be divided into smaller channels, which means that you could have all your football-loving buddies in the same team but keep the Packers fans and the Bears fans separate. Every member of a Team has access to all channels, but having these separate channels enables team members to talk trash in one group while cheering for their team in another.  


Virtually Attend the NFL 

Some teams will allow a limited number of fans inside their stadiums, but the NFL has partnered with Microsoft Teams to let a select group of fans attend the game without leaving the comfort of their living rooms. For each game, the home team will invite 30 fans to the Fan Mosaic, a Microsoft Team meeting which will be displayed in stadiums on LED screens. The partnership has yet to explain how home teams are going to choose fans for their virtual stadium, but expect updates to come closer to the beginning of the season. 


Relive Your Favorite Moments 

The NFL is offering its fans free access to NFL Game Pass, a streaming service exclusively for incredible NFL games and highlights from past seasons. According to nfl.com, Game Pass offers an extensive library of football programming, including: 

  • Access to past regular and postseason games 
  • Previous seasons of award-winning NFL Film series like Hard Knocks and A Football Life 
  • Exclusive NFL Game Pass Film Sessions with some of the NFL’s star players and coachers                                                         
  • Full game encores each day, featuring signature wins from all 32 teams 

Stay on Top of the Season 

Without viewing parties and being able to attend games in-person, football fans might find this season harder to keep track of. Below are a few ways to make sure you don’t miss a beat. 

Track Player Stats in Real-Time

As the NFL’s “Official On-Field Player Tracking Provider,” Zebra MotionWorks Sport is a wearable technology that collects real-time location data, capturing every players’ movements and every play on the field. Zebra’s commitment is total visibility in sports, which they introduce through three channels: athlete Performance, Coaching and Training, and Fan Enhancement. Through Zebra’s commitment to fan enhancement, this technology service has created an immersive football experience that doesn’t require fans to leave the house. Grow closer to your team, its players, and its field strategies by exploring Zebra’s immersive products and services. 


Take Advantage of DSSS’ Data-Sharing Solutions 

Digital Solutions and Services for the School of Government (DSSS) supports several data-tracking software programs, including Tableau and Microsoft Excel. Excel is a great option for sharing and editing spreadsheets with friends, family, and fellow football fans. With their easy-to-use templates and intuitive user interface, Microsoft Excel will enable you to share and analyze stats with those who matter most.  

Similarly, Tableau is a visual analytics platform that can help anyone track and understand their data. Supported by DSSS, Tableau uses embedded analytics to make data analysis and intelligence accessible to all kinds of applications and users and can be used on an individual or organizational scale. This application also has a feature called Tableau Public, which enables users to see data and data analyses that have been authored and shared by other users. Using Tableau Public’s search feature, users can easily access all kinds of NFL analytics, from the rarity of an NFL tie to a 2019 play-by-play analysis 

The End Zone 

This year’s NFL season may not look like season’s past, but that doesn’t mean that football won’t still be a bonding activity for millions of Americans. With the use of video conferencing software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and data tracking applications like Zebra and Tableau, this could be our most immersive football season yet.