As a member of the sports media for more than a decade, I attended my fair share of sporting events. The views from the various press boxes were many but most, if not all, shielded me from what happened in the stands.
Recently, however, I attended a Texas Rangers baseball game as a spectator for the first time in about three years and I noticed something strikingly different. No-one really watches the game anymore without their cell phone in their hand.
Now maybe this trend has been around for quite a while and I just didn’t realize it but on this particular night, I took special notice because it seemed as if I couldn’t escape the ringing, dinging, buzzing or endless selfies going on as the game was being played.
The man sitting next to me, for example, couldn’t stop checking his phone and then when it did ring, he couldn’t move fast enough to answer. A woman in the section next to me, to my knowledge, never saw one inning of the game without recording it as she stood to get a better vantage point for the camera. Another woman in front of me kept checking her e-mail and Facebook feed throughout the night. And the parade of people trying to get selfies in front of the scoreboard screen was endless and a couple of times, the usher had to ask them to take a seat.
On the surface, there is really nothing wrong with any of this and let me point out that I am guilty of checking my phone and documenting special occasions myself. But what I got to thinking about is the amount of money being spent to go the game and I wondered why in the world anyone would want to spend that money and not enjoy what was happening around them?
In my case, between tickets, parking, gas, food and drinks at the game, I spent a little more than $100 for two people. Many of the people I referenced were there with children who also wanted memorabilia so I can just imagine what that additional cost was.
For me, if all I was going to do was watch a game through a camera, I may as well just stay home and watch it on TV and save myself the aggravation of walking a mile from the parking lot to the stadium, not to mention the heat of summer and traffic afterward.
Don’t get me wrong, I love watching sports live and there is nothing like the atmosphere but with the rising cost, I want to make sure I enjoy my money’s worth and if I am not going to give my full attention to where I am and who I’m with, I don’t see much of a point in going.
On a side note, isn’t it time we ban “the wave” at sporting events? Seriously, there is nothing more pointless and utterly distracting than being booed or coerced into standing and waving your arms, especially during play, than that. And it’s kinda sad when the fans get more excited about a successful wave than they do with the action on the field but that is another matter and strictly has more to do with the team I was watching than anything else.
So, my unsolicited advice to all you sports fans out there who go to games is to put down your cell phone, enjoy the sights and sounds around you and take in what you paid for. Who knows? You just might get to watch history.