There is a disturbing trend developing in sports: fans are no longer fans. Sports fans have become so preoccupied tweeting, texting, taking pics on their mobile phones — curating and sharing their experience — they have become “digitally distracted” according to New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott.
“We have to challenge the people that [are] in the stadium now to get off their iPads and tweets and represent the stadium and get loud and make it a home-field advantage for us,” Scott told the New York Daily News last week.
Fans are no longer pouring into stadiums carrying foam fingers, neon towels, banners, Thunder Sticks, cowbells, crazy horns and whistles — all those quirky items that made fans. well, fans are being replaced by a more sophisticated crowd, more interested in snapping real-time images and posting tweets. Don’t believe it? Next time the camera pans a game, watch the fans. Better yet, watch a major league baseball game with one eye on the fans sitting behind the plate. Tell me if there’s not a handful of fans holding up their mobile phones, talking on their phone and waving at the camera or head down, buried in a steady flow of information on the device.
Those massive HD video screens that teams have invested in, forget it; fans are watching the replays on their mobile phones. The media is supporting the information frenzy, streaming news, notes and stats from the pressbox to the box seats via Twitter and other social media feeds.
Last month, Pew Internet research reported “83% of American adults own a cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone or other device that is also a cell phone,” a statistic (and trend) professional athletes are beginning to notice. Fans, who once played an intangible role, have become so engrossed with their mobile device, they’ve lost their way.
What do you think? Have you noticed more and more fans distracted by their mobile phones at games? Do you think mobile devices should be banned inside stadiums or is this just the modern culture we live in? Join the conversation by posting your comments below.