Sunday, October 17, 2010

It gets worse, sports fans

So I'm happy to learn I'm not the only one reading Puck Daddy over on Yahoo sports. This little item alarms me. It's about new fan-participation arena games that use motion sensor technology, and it's coming to a live hockey game near you.

A long time ago, a playwright named Bertolt Brecht wanted to shake up playhouse audiences. He developed a whole bunch of different techniques for this ("Brechtian" ones, yep). He wanted play audiences to be more like audiences at sporting events: loud, taunting, exuberant. Presumably, although he never said so, drunk.

But most of all he wanted play audiences to be know-it-alls. Sports audiences will boo an athlete if he performs badly. They'll question coach and strategy. They'll let the ref have it when a call gets blown. They'll do this all in real time as the game unfolds. Brecht wanted these kinds of boisterous, engaged spectators at his plays.

But look at where we're headed instead. Some fucked up mass Pavlovian experiment. Stadium sized bar trivia and Wii games. Virtual tug of war? Seriously? I've been to NHL games; I know a lot of people aren't there for the virtuosity of athletic endeavor, or for the slow unfolding of strategy and matchups. But christ, you don't have to encourage the bright-lights-loud-noise set. Too many of them can already, inexplicably, afford tickets. Why they go to hockey games and not a laser light show is beyond me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't suspect that whoever designed this garbage isn't laughing his head off every time he sees 15,000 people screaming and waving their arms like someone set their shoes on fire.

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