24 Jun 2022 Laura Swanson

Live Stadium Captioning for Sports: Getting Everyone in the Game

Is there ever not a busy time of year for sports fans?

Though the NHL and NBA recently crowned their champs, Major League Baseball is swinging into high gear, Major League Soccer (football, to our international friends) has started its earliest season start to date, professional tennis is dominating the courts, NASCAR is thundering on the speedways, the PGA is teeing off throughout the summer, and the NFL is getting ready to dominate TV schedules again. There truly is no off-season for the avowed sports-lovers among us.

And while VITAC proudly captions many of the above-mentioned televised events, fans going to the stadiums, arenas, and raceways in person are looking for live stadium captioning for sports as well. Below we detail some of the reasons why more fans are looking for captions in their favorite sports venues, and how easy it is for venues to provide live captioning for their fans. 

Accessibility 

For the estimated 20% of people worldwide who are deaf or experience some degree of hearing loss, captions are a necessary part of getting in the game. Not only can captions key fans into something they may have missed in gameplay, but they help ensure that the venue is safe for all fans. Stadium and event center captioning doesn’t only caption play descriptions, scoring, and player information, it also includes announcements relating to safety or emergency protocols, end-of-game updates, in-stadium advertisements, and next-game information.

Growing Popularity of Captions 

Captions have been growing in popularity, even amongst those in the hearing community. As more people see the benefits of captions, it’s unlikely their popularity will go away. Captions allow viewers in loud or crowded spaces to watch videos and still understand the dialogue. Captions also enable viewers in quiet spaces to watch videos without the sound on, and can even help viewers better understand and remember what they hear. 

Captions and subtitles have also broadened the scope of content people can consume as viewers no longer are limited by language barriers. For instance, even if a game is broadcast in one language, but has subtitle options for other languages, sports fans can watch and follow all the action of games from all over the world.

Social media and video-sharing apps have also spurred the appreciation and expectation for captions amongst viewers. Many online video hosting and sharing apps and services, like Vimeo, YouTube, and TikTok make it easy for even novice video creators to add captions, and many businesses and retailers have seized upon captions and transcripts as ways to boost their advertisements’ Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  

Increased Regulation and Awareness 

While captions have grown in popularity due to the myriad benefits of accessibility, productivity, and flexibility, as well as SEO and marketing perks, they’ve also become more popular due, in part, to their increased availability. And the increased availability is partly thanks to increased regulation and awareness.

Title III of the ADA, for example, requires that public spaces should be accessible and that no one should be denied services due to a lack of or inadequate auxiliary aids. Over the years, lawsuits have piled up from fans demanding captions in the stadium. Given the growing popularity of captions and the continuing accessibility lawsuits, the demand for captions is unlikely to dissipate.

Additionally, moments like the recent Super Bowl having the first halftime show including American Sign Language (ASL) performers or the recent National Hockey Leagues “State of the League Address” that included an ASL interpreter have put accessibility at the forefront of many conversations on how to increase sports fanbases and draw crowds to the games.

How Venues Can Provide Quality Captions for Fans 

Working with an experienced, professional captioning provider can make all the difference (and eliminate a lot of stress) when it comes to providing in-venue captions. Good captioning providers will: 

  • Collaborate with you to test your equipment and troubleshoot 
  • Onboard you and your venue/staff to ensure seamless delivery 
  • Establish and test multiple IP and encoder connections, and monitor start and finish times for all games to make sure every part of the event is captioned 
  • Research rosters, coaching staffs, mascots, and announcers and load them into customized dictionaries to use for the games 
  • Be available to offer customer support and assistance should any issues arise 

Just like any seasoned team, player, or coach, a quality captioning provider will bring their knowledge and experience to the team. Learn more about the insight and expertise we bring to every team we work with here.