Do you want raving fans…or not? Apparently the Sunderland soccer club wants raving fans, if they can rave while sitting down.
In the article Sunderland fans walk out in protest over season ticket holder suspended for standing, a group of fans walked out of the stadium in the first half of a recent match because a season ticket holder was suspended…for standing. There was a sign in the STH’s seat that read “This Season Card has been Suspended due to Persistent Standing.” Stop laughing…this really happened!
While I’ve never been to a European soccer match, I’ve been to enough professional sporting events in the U.S. to know that some people get aggravated when the fans in front of them stand. There’s usually some “nice” banter between the fans, and eventually the fan standing sits, or the sitting fan stands. That’s life; that’s how adults deal with issues; they “banter” and resolve. Now some sports fans aren’t truly “adults” (especially after several rounds of libations), but – again – that’s life.
What Sunderland got wrong is legislating something that’s basic, harmless, and can damper enthusiasm. In other words, their restrictions diminish passion. And if there’s one thing that players want from their home crowd, it’s passion. With the proliferation of “second screen” usage at games, fans are tending to look down at their smart phones more than ever, and it’s hard for a fan to maintain passion with a constant check of his phone. So teams/clubs instituting rules that restrict passion are restricting a big benefit to their club and a big part of the reason that fans go to games – for the live experience.
We have got to keep fans in the stadiums. We’ve got to keep passion in the stadiums. We’ve got to keep eyes focused on the field. We’ve got to encourage passion, energy, and – yes – standing.
So – if you work for a pro sports team/club – have a brainstorming session on how to create passion. Stand up the entire session, and you’ll be surprised at how much energy is in the room and how many ideas you can create.
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