Friday, October 8, 2010

On Spontaneity

William Astore recently published this article in the Huffington Post where he argues that fans' experiences have become too canned, manipulated by owners/administrators who prompt us when to chant, who control what we see on jumbotrons, who bombard us with commercials for the entire length of the game or match.

While the level of this varies from sport to sport (I'm looking at you football), he is sadly correct. It sometimes feels like being in Disneyland®: many fans want to see the real thing but are instead shown a cheap plastic replica.

And here is the problem. What makes sport sport, what separates sports from other forms of entertainment like the movies, theater, novels, etc. is that sports are inherently unpredictable. As a fan I go in hope of seeing something brilliant, something unexpected, something improvised, something spontaneous every time. And I want to react to that unexpected brilliance spontaneously. I want to be moved by improvisation without being prodded with lights, signs, music, and "applause" signs. By controlling their experience in minute detail from the parking lot to the final whistle, owners are depriving fans of the very experience they pay to enjoy.

(Parenthetically, I think jazz music can produce the same kind of awe as an amazing pass, shot, or throw, precisely because, like a good athletic contest, it is improvised.)

No comments: