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The close kinship between art and sport

Published: 
Sunday, August 12, 2018
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Shaun Fuentes

There are new sporting trends every calendar year and this continues to be what makes the evolution sport and sporting events so fascinating. There is that difference between sports and theatre and art, a little some may say but there is a difference. There is a close kinship between art and sport. And it's no accident that cricket, of all games, has attracted legions of theatrical followers and actors. On a match day at Lord's in England or at the Queen’s Park Oval here in T&T, you're likely to meet more actors and entertainers than at an art gallery, a fashion show or a play. The stars have been turning up in big numbers at football matches, NBA, Wimbledon, you name it. All are public spectacles that reflect society and depend on attracting paying customers. The only real difference lies in the uncertainty of the outcome. All sport, at its best, is a form of drama. It can also produce the most amazing, cathartic experiences.

I defy anyone who enjoys plays, movies or fiction not to have relished Friday night’s CPL match between the Trinbago Knight Riders and the Jamaica Tallawahs. It had everything you could wish for. A late reversal of fortune in which the Tallawahs came from behind to win. Aristotle, who thought the action was the basis of drama and understood all about hubris, would have had a field-night if he was watching from in the heavens.

So what about the experience being offered at Sporting Events as opposed to Movies, Musical concerts and other similar forms of entertainment. The fan experience at games remains the highest priority, with traffic and parking at a stadium the perennial concerns, not to mention access lines for entry, bars and washrooms. “If it’s a hassle, people will watch at home,” says Mike Golub president of business of the Portland Timbers soccer club. Because of this, bosses of leagues, clubs and stadiums are prioritising the needs of the fans. Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob remembers the evening in 2012 when he entered Oracle Arena to an onslaught of booing because of an unpopular decision on trading a player. Lacob knew he had to take responsibility for the move, and in a radio interview the next morning admitted that he “would have booed me, too.”

“If you say we’re the problem, we’re the problem,” he says, adding that even though he had plans to improve the team, “nobody could see that. So you have to recognize that the fan’s always right.”

Technology can enhance the experience, especially for young spectators accustomed to mobile communications. In football, for instance, with technology, we can teach where the game’s heading in a cool and exciting way because we can show the movement of the ball from foot to goal. Cricket is definitely making headways there and the social media experience is building every season.

“It’s no longer going to a sporting event with a hot dog and a beer and taking three and a half hours and driving home in the station wagon,” Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said.

So the same way we love being assured of safety at the movies or concerts, the same goes for our stadium experiences. Safety and Security is now a major priority at various events globally. Absolutely nothing was taken for granted in Russia for the World Cup and likewise, the bigger our events become in Trinidad and Tobago, the same urgency must exist.

“Once you start to lose the “families” (for example) it will be very difficult to get them back. Families, i.e., mothers, daughters, sons, grandparents, friends and other relatives, are the true lifeblood of every successful stadium,” stated Inaki Alvarez, past FIFA head of event management and former Director of operations at CONCACAF. When it comes to exploring new experiences and revenue sources at sporting events, “None of that can or will happen, however, and certainly none of it will be sustainable if the stadium is not safe and secure,” Alvarez said.

“Stadiums, arenas, and event venues are all, at the very core, in the people business. You can spend a lot of money on all kinds of projects, but if the people are not adequately trained and properly motivated, excellence will not be achieved,” he added.

As mentioned many times, there is a direct correlation between safety and security, and revenues. When people feel secure and safe, the door will be open for them to have a tremendous experience. From a business perspective, this generally means they are spending more money before the event, during the event, and post-event. Just one memorable experience has the power of creating a repeat customer, incrementally growing the lifetime value. It is a simple equation.

Editor's Note:

Shaun Fuentes is a former FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He is also currently a CONCACAF Competitions Media Operations Officer and has travelled extensively because of sport and media over the past eighteen years. He is also a certified media trainer for athletes. He made it back from CONCACAF duty in Kingston to witness last night's CPL match at the Queen's Park Oval.

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