Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Sport 0, Fireworks 1

By David Rowe - posted Monday, 17 August 2009


Occasionally, something happens in the brash world of 21st century sport that gives pause for thought. We’ve got used to the hoopla - dancers, drummers, rock bands, parachutists, dirigibles and so on - but a close game terminated because the fireworks couldn’t wait?

Recently, a tied baseball game in Northern California between the Chico Outlaws and Calgary Vipers in the Golden Baseball League's North Division was stopped because it was getting too late for the post-game fireworks display.

City ordinances wouldn’t allow post-11pm fireworks, and the team managers refused to restart the game after the rockets were fired because of injury concerns for players. So it was agreed to freeze the game and resume combat an hour before the next one between the teams. Essentially, Catherine Wheel and Roman Candle took precedence over slugger and mitt.

Advertisement

Of course, this is America - worse still, California - so it really couldn’t happen here, could it? Except that Australian sport is no stranger to the lure of non-sporting frivolity before, after and even during the match.

Sydney Olympic Park, for example, encourages people to visit its Overflow venue two hours before the big game for pre-match entertainment. The State of Origin Game 1, 2009 in Melbourne, like many other events, used the customary pop band to blast the ear wax out of expectant spectators. Sometimes players get their own signature tunes and, of course, there are always the fireworks.

Australian sport is prone to copying many American trends - like franchises and silly names - and perhaps the first firecracker game interruption is not too far away.

Re-scheduling a sport contest in deference to postgame pyrotechnics directly questions the place of sport within “sportainment”. Traditionally, sport is seen as primary, and additional attractions (or distractions) like fireworks used to add value for some spectators, especially younger children and other family members, who are not especially passionate or knowledgeable about the sport contest itself.

Turning sports events into multi-dimensional spectacles is part of the process of going beyond a conventionally male, sport-fixated fan base - which is both demographically limiting and numerically diminishing - to embrace a wider (including television) audience.

Dyed-in-the-wool sport fans usually dislike this showbiz element, but tolerate it if it brings economic benefits to the sport and enhances domestic harmony. Players, similarly, tend to accept it as part of the promotional sport order. But they become agitated when the entertainment “contaminates” the sport, and where there is any ambiguity about the primary place of the sport contest within the total event.

Advertisement

So, the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics can become the most watched “live” event in human history, and all involved understand that it is sport-related spectacle. However, stopping the marathon after 20 miles for a scheduled firework display would lead to uproar.

Dayan and Katz in their book Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History discuss three main big event “scripts”: Contests, Conquests, and Coronations. Sport, unlike moon landings (Conquests) or the US President taking the oath of office (Coronations), is principally about the Contest. For this reason, to interrupt the action for an entertainment commitment seriously skews the nature of the event.

The word “commitment” is especially significant here - not only the legal requirement to observe city ordinances, but honouring promises to paying customers. These are overwhelmingly those who have come for the sport and want the contest resolved on the night, but what about some who might be there for the fireworks? Both might demand their money back and consult their lawyers.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All


Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

David Rowe is Professor of Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney, and author of Global Media Sport (Bloomsbury, 2011) and Sport Beyond Television (with Brett Hutchins, Routledge, 2012).

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Rowe

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of David Rowe
Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy