What’s not to love about going to a Major League Baseball game? An excuse to eat hot dogs, shout like a maniac for your favorite players, possibly catching a fly ball; it was always an incredible experience while growing up. In 2007, I attended my first game in Detroit and couldn’t have been happier. The first thing I asked my dad when we walked into the stadium was, “who is pitching today? I want to see someone good!”
Nine innings later, I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Justin Verlander threw his first no-hitter! The players celebrated on the field while everyone in the stands was equally ecstatic. The excitement eventually poured into the street as the entire city seemed to be celebrating the achievement. It was the type of experience you never forget.
Earlier this year, I attended an Atlanta Braves game and noticed something strange. My experience was completely different, and it had nothing to do with the game. If you have been to a professional sports game recently then you will understand my sentiments. Whether it’s access to technology or the impact of the way we watch sports outside of the arena, the fan experience is changing.
If you are like me, you bring your cell phone everywhere. The ballpark is no exception. With a cellphone comes immediate access to Facebook, notifications from Snapchat, emails from work, and thousands of other distractions. While at the game, I helped at least three groups take pictures for Facebook. A couple of snaps from friends forced me to reply with a few photos of the field and food. Before I knew it, an inning had passed and I had no idea what happened. Cellphones are wonderful devices, but can be incredibly distracting at a game.
How do you watch highlights from a football game? The majority of fans watch either SportsCenter or another television show that provides only the most exciting moments of every game. On these shows, an entire football game can be summed up in less than a minute. What has this kind of presentation done for live sporting events? The attention span of a fan is much shorter. Instead of seeing dazzling highlights like on television, a fan in the stadium watches only a mere 11 minutes of actual gameplay, according to a Wall Street Journal article. This is a perfect recipe for a less than memorable event.
Technology and the impact of sports highlight shows are just two examples of how a fan’s experience at a live professional sports event has shifted over the years. With these issues existing, professional sports teams are forced to ask themselves how they can make their games as memorable as possible.