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What is Pro Sports’ Obsession with Strobe Lights?

The NFL and other professional sports have fallen in love with the flashing strobe light effect during big moments, and I don’t like it.

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Aside from writing about the AV industry, there’s not much more I enjoy than sitting on my couch and watching football all day Sunday.

Even if refs keep throwing those flags and replay challenges last 30 hours, I won’t stop watching football and constantly checking my fantasy teams.

Now that I’ve settled into the gig here at Commercial Integrator and I’ve had a month to learn about the industry, I’m seeing AV everywhere, especially while I watch one of my favorite sports all day.

Lately, I’ve noticed what appears to be a rising trend where a stadium’s lights flicker on and off after the home team scores. This strobe light effect that might look cool in person but really looks strange on TV.

No, I’m not just salty about the Baltimore Ravens doing this at M&T Bank Stadium after scoring (several times) against my New England Patriots.

These stadiums cost millions of dollars. M&T Bank Stadium, built in 1998, came with a tab of $220 million. Surely, the NFL and their preferred AV partner, with a budget like that, can do more than strobe lights, right?

Related: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in the eSports Tech Market

It appears this new strobe light trend is the product of new AV technology being installed in NFL Stadiums, most notably LED lights and control systems. They’re more efficient than traditional bulbs and can help keep costs down to power a big energy suck like a football stadium and allow for better control for light shows.

But a strobe light effect isn’t a light show. In my opinion, it’s a gimmicky thing that takes away from the game during dramatic moments. This is now a thing in the MLB too. You can barely see the pitcher’s reaction after giving up a home run in the World Series.

When did this happen? What is the obsession with strobe lights at these events? There are other visually appealing lighting effects than a strobe light, which belongs in a club or a college party.

About the Author


Zachary Comeau comes from a journalism background with more than 8 years of experience writing for several daily newspapers and industry trade publications in Massachusetts. He joined Commercial Integrator in October 2019.

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