I am clearly missing something. Perhaps the sports and games I love are being marketed to people, to fans, unlike me. I go to a good number of sporting events every year. I have season tickets to the Mets. My buddy hooks me up with at least two or three home Jets games per season. I usually tag on a Mets and Jets road trip, as well as one major college game per year. Maybe even a hockey game here or there. Truth be told, I have even gone to watch the New York Knickerbockers on occasion. Yes, even during the Zeke era.
So, having been to my fair share of sporting events at arenas, stadiums and ballparks around this fine country, and having watched hundreds of other sporting events on TV, I’ve formed an opinion on a few things. In-game entertainment is one of those things. Simply put, it makes me angry. Not to sound like a snotty purist, but some of this stuff just doesn’t really belong. Anywhere. Ever.
More specifically, here are a few in-game entertainment “innovations” that I am less than enamored by.
Dishonorable Mention: The “Everybody Clap Your Hands Song” (a.k.a Cha Cha Slide)
The dude above is DJ Casper. I have no problem with him or his chart-topping “Cha Cha Slide.” In fact, I rather enjoy it when that little dude dances around dipping his nuggets and apple slices in the Mickey D’s commercial. Here’s what I do take issue with…parks around the country playing the “everybody clap your hands” lyric from that song over and over again, spurring a frightening number of mindless trolls (many grown adults mind you) in the crowd to giggle uncontrollably and giddily while they, you guessed it, clap their hands.
Really? We need to be told to clap our hands? I guess this should not surprise me. Stadium PAs and jumbotrons universally assume fans are dumb-as-rocks and need visual and audio cues in order to do certain things. “Make noise!” “Stand up!” Why would clapping your hands be any different?
#5 Worst Offender: The T-Shirt Launch
Though surely quite a technological marvel, the t-shirt launcher should be tossed away with the same propulsion force with which it emits $2 Ts. Seeing grown men and women disregard life and limb to scramble for a sponsor-branded white T-shirt that has already plopped up and down a series of beer-soaked stadium/arena steps is a sight I could easily do without. It’s particularly disturbing when those perpetrators are folks comfortably seated in the not-close-to-cheap seats.
Of course what I love most is the fans all around the venue, furiously flailing their arms to grab the attention of the teenagers, many of them a half mile way, wielding their all-powerful cannons. Oh yes, and someone is going to die one of these days falling from the upper deck reaching for one of those high-quality cotton Ts with a huge Pepsi logo on the back. Now the hotdog gun, that’s a whole ‘nother story…
#4 Worst Offender: CHARGE!
Give me a spine-tingling soundtrack accompanying some William Wallace highlights and color me mildly motivated. But the typical duh-duh-duh-duh-da-dah! organ music followed by C-H-A-R-G-E in big bold letters on the scoreboard just doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I know it’s kind of an old-school thing, but doesn’t CHARGE! seem a weird battlecry to be blaring from the speakers in the middle of the seventh of a 0-0 pitchers duel?
# 3 Worst Offender: Mind-Numbing Jumbotron Races
The sausage race in Milwaukee? Awesome. A real race. High entertainment value. If you’re lucky, an occasional open field tackle of the Italian or Polish. Heck, it’s even a multi-cultural extravaganza these days. Fantastic.
Not fantastic? The animated “races” often displayed on Jumbotrons that provide no logical reason for fans to cheer or yell. Yet they do. For example, at Shea they used to have these airplane and car races where the little cartoon-like vehicle or aircraft would circle around NYC and then race to the finish once inside Shea! They were colored to coincide with different seating sections in the ballpark. Crowd noise had no impact on the outcome. The winning car added points to their color’s standings. These standings were of no consequence to anyone. There were no fan prizes, for instance. Yet, still, people shouted with great energy. I don’t get it. I’m not sure I ever will.
#2 Worst Offender: Thundersticks
Everything about thundersticks pisses me off. For starters, some person, somewhere, came up with the idea to make inflatable little plastic “sticks” that one could bang together and make noise. This person is now making millions of dollars for life. This fact bothers me greatly.
Oh yes, his/her “invention” is also a bane on the fan experience. You want to bang those things around at certain “relevant” moments during a game? OK. Somebody scores a touchdown? Homerun? Hat trick? Sure. Get up and violently whack your little plastic wands together.
But with one out in the fourth inning between the 1-1 pitch…and the 1-2 pitch…and the 2-2 pitch…or the timeout during a hoops game. It seriously makes me want to take those sticks and being pummeling you. I don’t care if you’re six, sixteen or sixty.
#1 Worst Offender and Enemy of All Fans Worldwide: The F-in Wave
Does this even require an explanation? The Wave is a tradition in sporting venues around the world. For what reason, we are still unclear. Aside from the always valuable opportunity to stretch, the wave has no redeeming qualities. It is usually most enthusiastically supported by those with the least knowledge of what the hell is going on with the team, game or sport that is taking place within the stadium or arena in which they sit.
It always brings a smile to my face knowing that thousands of morons have managed to stand up and raise their arms…typically when the home team is getting embarrassed. You know, your baseball squad is down 7-0 in the fourth. Time for the wave! Show’s a lot of “fan intelligence.” Oh, and when it makes its way all the way around the stadium and that roar emanates…be still my heart. It’s what makes a fan, a fan. Don’t you think?
So, what modern marketing marvel regularly making the rounds in today’s sporting venues gets under your skin?
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About the Author: Cecilio's Scribe is the founder of The Legend of Cecilio Guante and a generally pessimistic fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers. A fine NYC-based gentlemen who hones his marketing skills as his primary trade by day. Husband, chef, father of a newborn and after-hours blogger by night. Proud alum of the mighty Big Red of Cornell. University. Hot sauce devotee. Staunch protester of the continued wussifcation of American sports. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.