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Moment of Silence
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The Pulse: Moment of Silence

The Pulse is a quick trip around sports asking Game Operations personnel a topical question regarding their production or event. We then bulk the answers together in an effort to showcase what's happening around the country at different levels and in different sports.

Moment of Silence Pulse

In early April, I emailed about a dozen game operations professionals and asked them their insights on producing an effective Moment of Silence...and tragically this turned out to be more timely than I would have liked due to the violence on the Virgina Tech campus. The situation did stress the importance of doing this right and we hope the insight of these professionals can help you next time you have to produce an effective moment.

Many teams honor people, players or events with a Moment of Silence, some even ask the fans to reflect at each game during war time. The timing, duration and details vary and we asked several teams how they execute their commemoration.

Moment of silence (wikipedia)
A moment of silence is the expression for a period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation. Similar to flying a flag at half-mast, a moment of silence is often a gesture of respect, particularly in mourning for those who have recently died or as part of a commemoration ceremony of a tragic historical event.

One minute is a common length of time for the commemoration, though other periods of time may be chosen, normally connected in some way with the event being commemorated (there might be a minute given for every death commemorated, for example). During the moment of silence, participants may typically bow their heads, remove hats, and refrain from speaking or moving places for the duration. A person officiating or presiding over the gathering will be responsible for the declaring and timing of the period of silence.

A moment of silence may be accompanied by other acts of symbolic significance, such as the tolling of bells, the release of doves or balloons, or a performance of the Last Post.

Here is an example Moment with the San Francisco Giants honoring Robin Williams. We asked the panel to answer any of the following questions and share any additional thoughts:

  • Do you have a standard time and method for these, or do you customize for the situation?
  • Do you have one every night during the current war?
  • Do you always hold it pre-game, or immediately before the anthem?
  • Who in the organization decides who you honor with a moment of silence?
  • Do you have any policies in place regarding moments of silence?
  • Does your league have any rules or guidelines you can share?
  • Do you do anything else to accompany the MOS? Tolling of bells, doves released, Last Post played, or balloons?

Arika Cress
Columbus Crew (MLS)

  • We do a Moment of Silence in a case-by-case situation: natural disasters, tragedies, death to someone who worked or is close to the team or league.
  • We do not do one each game during a time of war.
  • It is held pre-game immediately before the anthem.
  • The decision is usually made collectively, normally it is very evident when something like this should be used. Hurricane Katrina was the last time we had a moment of silence.
  • We do not have any policies in place regarding moments of silence and our league does not provide any rules or guidelines to the teams.
After the Viginia Tech violence the MLS asked each of their teams to read the following and observe a moment of silence at their next game:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for our national anthem.

Each one of us was shocked and saddened by the events that transpired Tuesday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Instead of observing a moment of silence, we ask that you show your support for the families most deeply affected by this tragedy by joining INSERT NAME OF ANTHEM SINGER in singing a song of perseverance and solidarity, The Star-Spangled Banner."

Patrick Walker
Seattle Sonics and Storm (NBA/WNBA)

  • The standard moment of silence takes place immediately after blow-off and just prior to the national anthem. We go "lights out" for all of our anthems, so it sets the stage for a PA read recognizing the moment of silence. Depending on the impact of the individual on our organization, we will either run a life stamped photo (ex. 1955-2007) with a PA read...or in the situation of someone who had very close ties (i.e. a team Legend), we will run a highlight video set to emotional/uplifting music.
  • We do not do one each game during a time of war.
  • It is always held before the anthem
  • Final decision on holding a Moment of Silence is made by our President or VP of Sales & Marketing
  • The NBA will often send out a league wide directive for a moment of silence if the event or death of an individual has national or league specific (i.e. Red Auerbach) impact.
  • The only thing we use to accompany the Moment is video or multiple still photos (as noted above).

Brian Flenner
The Ohio State University

  • The length of the pause is customized for the situation but typically 10- seconds
  • We do not do one each game during a time of war.
  • It is always held before the anthem
  • Athletic Director under the advisement of Communications, Marketing and Event Management makes the decision on when we observe a moment of silence.
  • A Public Address announcement describing the situation is used to inform the fans and introduce the observation.

Josh Richardson
NO/OKC Hornets (NBA)

  • The Hornets have a standard Moment of Silence for each and ever home game to honor our soldiers that have fought and perished while serving our country (The Moment of Silence follows our Invocation and Color Guard prior to the National Anthem)
  • The Moment of Silence is approximately 15 seconds
  • All the video boards and messages go "black" while we pause

Todd Bosma
Portland Trailblazers

  • We don't have a standard time and/or method for these - We tend to customize but we usually accompany our PA with an image on our big screen - Recently a long time (much publicized) season ticket holder passed away and we didn't do a moment of silence, but we put a "we will miss you" message on the big screen then went to a live shot of her seat which had photos & flowers on it.
  • We do not do one every night during a time of war
  • We almost always hold it pre-game (after blow-off but before the tip) - We usually introduce our color guard, then do the moment of silence then on to the anthem - It works out nice and has a good flow to it.
  • Various people decide in our organization; we take suggestions from everyone.
  • We do not have any policies or procedures regarding the MOS
  • Occasionally the NBA sends us PA Copy and tells when we are to do them when it is a league wide initiative or recognition (ex. Dennis Johnson).
  • As far as the duration, we just pause long enough so that it feels right but not too long so people think we need to get on with it.

The Archive of Pulse Questions

Special thanks to each of these game operations professionals for sharing their insight and experience.

More Information and related links

  • Moment of silence. (2007, April 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:44, April 23, 2007, from

Did you know?
A moment of silence is considered by some as a code expression for prayer time, usually argued when used in schools, but the debate sometimes includes when used during sporting events.

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