The first thing rugby players should do when they take the field this weekend is form a circle facing outward and applaud everyone who has got off their couch to come along to watch them.
The second thing that should happen is a public announcement from Rugby New Zealand that it is sincerely sorry for having failed for so long to fully appreciate those who turn up and pay at the gate and that henceforth it will do its best to see that their comfort, information and enjoyment is first class.
Those sentiments should be earnestly endorsed by television commentators who now realise how much televised sport owes to a live crowd. Covid-19 has forced all of us, especially armchair spectators, to look into the darkness of sport in empty stadiums and it is deadly. I doubt anyone quite realised how deadly it would be.
Back on March 13 when we'd just moved from alert level 1 to level 2 without knowing there was a level 1, 2, 3 or 4, the Black Caps took the field for the opening match of a scheduled one-day cricket series in Australia. Back here, we were more worried about another thrashing on the scale of the recent test series than the absence of a crowd.
The match was not very old before another thrashing was happening. David Warner and Aaron Finch were hitting boundaries at will. But there was no thunder of cheering each time the ball went to the fence. When Finch slung two sixes into the stands, the crack of his bat echoed around the Sydney Cricket Ground and died. Fielders climbed into the stands to search for the ball under empty seats.
The TV commentators tried to ignore the lack of atmosphere for as long as they could but eventually remarked it was like watching cricket at a club ground. So it was, without the charm.
Australians were probably as relieved as us when the rest of the series was called off, both countries closing their borders a few days later. Three matches in empty stadiums would have been unbearable.
Rugby administrators probably watched some of that cricket match, enough of it to get very afraid. That may be the reason they have been in no hurry to resume the Super Rugby competition until crowds could attend sport again.
The Australian Rugby League has been less patient and more inventive. ARL matches have resumed, with canned crowd noise on telecasts and seats in the camera shot occupied by cardboard replicas of fans or of celebrities sent in by fans. Brilliant - but it underlined how much sport on television needs the presence of a crowd.
It has been a lesson that should not be quickly forgotten.
Super Rugby, shortened to a domestic competition, should have no difficulty attracting crowds when it restarts this weekend. Students will have a party in Dunedin's covered stadium tonight and Aucklanders will flock to Eden Park tomorrow if only to see Beauden Barrett turn out for the Blues.
But looking beyond this weekend, the game needs to do much more for a paying crowd. And I don't mean louder bursts of music at breaks in play, bigger personalities paid to work up a cheer or more faces lighting up at a glimpse of themselves on the big screen.
Professional sport needs to work on the reason anybody goes out at night to watch something they could see in much more comfort and close-up from their sofa at home. They go for reality. Whether it is sport or a concert or theatre, there is a quality to the experience of live performance that film cannot match.
You see remarkable people in the flesh, see all of them on the stage at once, you see the whole stage not the narrow focus of a camera. Rugby is a territorial game and television cannot show that dimension well. But that is a price most people will pay for the advantages of television coverage.
Those advantages include information. It is galling to come home from a game and find those who watched it on TV know more about what happened than you do. At the very least all penalties should be explained on the stadium screen.
Super Rugby was losing crowds long before it was interrupted by the pandemic this season. Now it might find the coronavirus has done it some favours. Contests between its New Zealand teams have been the main attraction here for years. Now Rugby NZ has the freedom to enforce the offside and tackle rules that would improve the spectacle.
And before this season is out we may have borders re-opened with Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Japan. The Pacific produces open rugby and sparkling events, the kind that can make you want to be there.