Shhhhhhhh! I’m Trying To Cheer!

Thanks to a shipping error I am now currently overstocked on wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men, and I am passing the savings on to you!!

Al Harrington

Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse (Family Guy)

A new podcast dealing with the same topic as this post is available over there–>.

Here is an article that touches my life in several ways.  First, my grandmother is from Nottingham, so I have some ancestry connections.

More importantly this idea of creating atmosphere with phony fans is absolutely funny, not only because of the absurdness of the idea, but also because you’d be hard pressed to find a difference between blow up dolls and many fans at North American sporting events.  Now I will admit that I tend to be among the more restrained people at a game.  I will cheer for my favourite teams and stand up after a good play. I will get louder to spur on the defence, and when I was younger I’d even yell out the odd taunt.  What shocks me, and many observers, is the lack of knoweldgeable cheering among fans.  In most professional sports, large sound systems and screaming announcers dominate the crowd. On the surface there is nothing inherently wrong with this.  After all, arena builders spend hundreds of thousands of dollars outfitting their buildings with the best equipment and they should make use of it.  Awhile ago I wrote about using small sports leagues to help people reconnect to their communities.  A professional sports team develops their own community among their supporters.  In the past most teams drew their in stadium supporters from a wide swath of society.  Without advanced sound systems the crowd was forced to make noise and create home field advantage all on their own. It was also necessary for fans to understand the dynamics of the game they were watching and cheer at appropriate times. The most often cited example of this is when a crowd gets loud for their defence at a football game, and then quieter for the offence.  There are many subtler examples of this phenomenon but the anecdotal evidence demonstrates that crowds are either less interested in the games they are watching, or have been programmed to follow the music. Thus the crowd is more disjointed, quieter, and much less cohesive.  I won’t try to name the various types of fans you’ll find but they range from businessperson out with clients to drunk twentysomething to lifelong diehard to family.

One other aspect of this change is arena architecture.  Bill Simmons of ESPN has written about state of the art (SOTA) stadiums/arenas.  He argues that they are built to exclude the ordinary fan in favour of higher paying customers.  The consequence is a crowd experience that is, in his opinion, lacking in passion and intensity.

The final element in this mixture is television.  For the average fan, who may be feeling the effects of a failing economy and ticket prices that have been sky rocketing in recent years, watching games from home is an attractive alternative to attending them live.  I think this is a spiraling situation. As more fans stay home from games because the experience isn’t as fun, the crowds get less passionate and enthusiastic, meaning fewer people see the value in attending the games live.  At some point the major leagues will need to increase the revenue they get from tv (which is already quite substantial) if gate revenues begin to drop. Perhaps at that point inflatable crowds will be the norm.

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