Who needs South Korean baseball fans in the stands when you can have robot fans instead?

Wish you were at the big game but instead are being dragged to some other event and have to settle for checking your phone? Pshaw! There may be a solution for that, at least if you’re a fan of South Korea’s Hanwha Eagles baseball team. They’re trying to improve the atmosphere at games and allow those unable to attend to join in on stadium cheers by installing a crowd of “fanbots,” or robots who pose as fans, in the stands. The New York Post reports:

“The robots can cheer, chant and can even do the wave if you so desire. If you’re worried that the robots won’t have the same personal touch that you can add to the stadium, you will be pleased to know that you can upload a picture of your face to the robot to add that human element.”

Creepy? Yes. But also kind of cool? Also yes. Absentee fans are able to control the robots through the Internet, which they had previously used simply to watch games and comment on them.

“It’s a pretty neat idea,” pitcher Andrew Albers said in a video about the fanbots. “I think it gets the crowd into it [and] really helps then get involved.”

And the Eagles need it. The team has been struggling lately to attract people to the stadiums as they attempt to recover from a long-term losing streak. The team’s current overall record is 30-49, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.

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Marissa Payne · July 28, 2014

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