When spectator interaction interferes with play
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
Spectators being passionate about what they’re watching has always been a core element of professional sports. Without an audience, there would be no point in the glory of competing in the big games. Most athletes enjoy the attention, both on and off the field, whether it’s signing autographs, tossing a ball to a fan, or even just reacting to the most enthusiastic members of the crowd. (Honestly, what would be the point of watching Canucks games if not for the green men these days?)
But, as with all tasks that require great energy and concentration, distractions can easily throw a player’s mindset off. They’re there to play their absolute hardest, and that’s why they’ve practiced for years and years and get paid millions of dollars to do so. What’s more important at the end of the game—to have played to the best of your ability for the good of the team, or to have given some attention to one out of the thousands of ticket holders that day?
Recently, two fans ran onto the field during a soccer match to take selfies with Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli. Although Balotelli wasn’t amused at first and the two were eventually escorted away by security, he posed happily for the photos, which then went viral online as the fans bragged of not being punished. Although Manchester City went on to easily win the game, such distractions could’ve easily interrupted an important play or strategy.
Fans come out to the arena to have a good time. They pay money to leave with special memories and see athletes they admire play a game. It’s even better if they walk away with a memento of the day—perhaps a caught foul ball or even an autograph or photo with their favourite player. But there’s a time and place for the fan interaction, and what’s most important is that there’s respect for those doing their jobs. Interrupting actors during a play or asking for a photo with a singer during a concert is almost unheard of and would be ridiculous. Security guards and social norms exist to remove these sorts of nuisances. Yet it’s not only easy to bypass security and harass a player or go streaking for that brief moment of attention in sports today, it’s almost encouraged by the media and other fans.
Athletes arguably face more pressure than any other type of entertainer. Every single time they perform, it’s important they play at 110 per cent. While being known for kindness to fans is always a good trait, it comes second to maintaining their professional duties and giving it all they’ve got. Even too much verbal communication with the audience can throw their concentration off, especially if they’re being taunted for failing a play. Sports are supposed to be about the game and the players, not the overzealous fans.
So keep your taunts to players at a minimum (unless they really, really choked this time) and save your streaking for the next frat party. Enjoy the game, be respectful, and remember what the athletes are there to do.