Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why We Shout - Mac Millings

Some Mouthy bloke recently posted the following on a popular sportblog comment thread: “If they get the ticketing right (and they probably won't) I expect the London crowds to be very non-jingoistic….It would be awful if the Games’ crowds were versions of Wimbledon's and not versions of a London primary school's parents' evening.”

It was the Wimbledon part that struck me. Similar sentiments had been expressed during The Championships; for while some revelled in the screaming support for Andy Murray, most expressed dismay that this wasn’t what Wimbledon was about, and that the antics of “the Surrey Set” made a nation cringe. But why, I wondered, is deafeningly enthusiastic fan fervour at a football match the least you would expect, but the same on Centre Court is faintly embarrassing? What accounts for the differences in appropriate fan reaction at football and tennis, or, for that matter, any (top level – and I emphasise that I’m considering only the top level of the sports I mention) popular modern sport? In short, why do we shout more at some types of sporting event than others?

Let’s start with the contention that the character of the Wimbledon Centre Court crowd is a function of the class of its constituent members.

"They don't sit on their hands, they actually use them to clap." So said Martina Navratilova about the famous Sunday Centre Court crowd of 1991. We (yes, I was among them), the ordinary folk, had been let in for a tenner, and we were a little rowdier than the regular patrons of the place. This, it is supposed, led to the increasingly vocal, almost football crowd-like behaviour of today’s Wimbledon ticket buyers.

But is that really what’s happening? Nationality is the key here. The crowd only truly goes crazy for Murray, as it did for Henman before him, and I suspect Roger Taylor used to get something similar. If there’s no Brit on court (although a particular crowd favourite, like Agassi, can stir almost as strong a response) even in these modern times, the crowd reverts to the norm – silent before points, applause after. And, more or less, that’s how we behaved on that Sunday long ago. A little louder, to be sure (especially for Connors), but still respectful of the etiquette of the tennis crowd – which is not based on class, but on the fact that the game of tennis requires such etiquette. That’s what you do as a spectator of a sport whose participants take turns.

The crowd at a game of snooker is about as far removed, class-wise, as you can get from that watching a Centre Court match, and yet their behaviour is remarkably similar; generally speaking; silence before a shot, applause after a successful one. Rowdier cheering is reserved for crowd favourites (and of course, at crucial junctures of a match, which is common behaviour throughout the quieter sports).

National bias, which inspires much of the loudest crowd noise in tennis, is, of course, less apparent in snooker because of the paucity of foreigner players. However, both national bias and player favouritism are merely modifiers – they increase the noise levels when they are present, but aren’t the dominant factors regarding crowd etiquette. And as for the type of people who watch – well, why we’re sometimes quiet at sporting events has little to do with class, and much to do with the type of sport we’re watching. In snooker, the players take turns, and we who watch are quiet. In tennis, we are quiet, too – but slightly less so, because the turns are taken more quickly.

Well, you might say, a tennis serve is a shot, like a snooker or a golf shot, that requires concentration, and so quiet is necessary to allow the player to focus. But does a penalty-taking footballer, or a player taking a free throw in basketball, not need to concentrate on his big moment? He doesn’t get to, though, especially not in an away game.

I think what you have here is the modus operandi of a crowd, whose sport usually demands noise, overwhelming what are essentially individual sporting moments. For we are not quiet based on the difficulty of the game. The penalty takers and free throw shooters, whose shots aren’t significantly (if at all) less difficult than those of golfers and snooker players, suffer simply from being participators in two of the noisy sports.

There are, in terms of crowd noise, essentially three kinds of sport. There are the shouting, singing, constant noise (unless the home side aren't doing so well) sports - football, rugby chief among them. Stateside (which, as I'm here, I sort of follow, but sort of don't really understand), the major equivalents are the other football and basketball, which maintain the noise levels, and lack only the singing.

Then you have the constant chatter sports; cricket (with chants - if not outright singing - emerging in recent years. I speak here of English cricket grounds, as that is my where my personal experience lies) and baseball. The latter, I feel, is a little more raucous. For example, fans will boo certain players they don't like, or even throw objects onto the field of play - this all seems to me to be closer to the shouty sports than the chatty ones. Further, baseball being more stylised than cricket, there are certain, set moments - for example, when the home side is potentially one pitch away from wrapping up the game - that lend themselves to jeering and cheering more than any in cricket (although the cheering and clapping of a player as he is on the threshold of a 100 in cricket is a parallel). On the whole, though, baseball approximates cricket in the way that the spectators treat it as much as a social, chatting-and-drinking-with-your-friends day out.

Then there are the silent ones, the reverential sports – among them tennis, golf and snooker.

There is, it seems to me, a clear correlation between the nature of the games in question, and the reactions they elicit from their spectators. It’s all about how each sport combines team play, possession of the ball (because we are mostly talking about ball sports), and player interaction.

In the shouty sports, when the ball is in play, the teams are at each other all the time – from passes, shots, tackles and saves, to off-the-ball pushing and shoving, it’s constant interaction.

In the chatty sports (cricket and baseball), there is only one team on the field, and they all interact with just one or two of the opposition, in very short bursts – balls/overs and pitches/innings. The passion of the crowd’s reaction varies, dependent almost entirely on the importance of the result of the burst of action; in cricket, applause for a good shot (which is of limited importance for most of the length of the match), but cheering for a wicket (which is generally more important). In baseball, some cheering for an out (of which there are plenty - usually 51 to 54 in a game – so their value is relatively small), but more for a hit (of which there are almost always far fewer), and even more for a home run (rare, relative to a regular hit).

In quiet sports such as tennis and snooker, it’s one-on-one – the protagonists take turns. The audience applauds, and sometimes cheers, a good shot, but generally tries not to do so to the disadvantage of the player on the receiving end. The applause and cheering are generally rowdier and more interruptive in tennis than snooker – this is mainly because in snooker, one player takes (or, at least, can take) several shots in a row, whereas in tennis, the shots are alternating. This means, in snooker, less of an opportunity to interrupt the other player, while tennis provides a shorter time between shots to applaud a good one (resulting in a greater likelihood of noise during the opposing player’s shot), and, more importantly, more immediate excitement, as players try to outmanoeuvre/overpower each other in a short space of time (the duration of each point).

Golf, on the other hand, is the player alone. We wait; he (or she) hits the ball; finally, we applaud, or cringe, or not much of either. These reactions are based on the golfer’s skill alone - other than in end-of-tournament pressure situations, where the scope for din and excitement is greater. An appreciation of skill alone doesn’t evoke much passion – hence golf spectators are amongst the quietest, on the whole. Only in matchplay do we find a person against person format, and it is no surprise that the time when a golf-watching crowd becomes the rowdiest, the most football crowd-like, is during the Ryder Cup, when matchplay format meets team play and national/regional pride.

One last thing. Boxing, and it’s instructive. One of the world’s oldest sports, it’s perhaps the ultimate test of an athletic individual (yes, there’s room for argument there, as there is with everything about boxing, but it is a test, you’ll grant me that). It could never be a team sport - a dozen people in the ring at one time? Where would you look? – And therefore doesn’t have the natural advantages, in terms of crowd noise, that football enjoys.

Yet, at the highest level, it can inspire passion, shouting, chanting and singing – more, maybe, than any other sport of the individual, because it’s the most interactive of all sports; it’s me or him, and either way, it’s going to hurt. In rugby you tackle, and even occasionally punch, but in boxing it is (homoeroticism alert!) the continuous mutual pursuit of two men. When there are lulls in the crowd, it’s because the fighters aren’t hitting each other; when there’s passion among the spectators, it’s because the fighters are hitting each other a lot.

But imagine. Imagine if boxing wasn’t three essentially pauseless minutes of scrapping, followed by three more, and three more, and so on. Imagine if you tossed a coin, and the winner got to punch first. Just once. Then it’s the other guy’s turn, and they keep on like that until someone falls down and can’t get up. We wouldn’t be yelling and cheering in a wall of noise. We’d wait and watch, and then our reaction would be a cheer, or a grimace, or not much, depending on the punch. Then we wait and watch again. And react. Watch and react. And it wouldn’t be boxing any more. It would be tennis. With punching.

42 comments:

mimi said...

Very interesting and thoroughly enjoyable piece. Thanks Mac Millings.

In rugby I've noticed major crowd noise changes over the years. For instance, it used to be mandatory for the entire crowd to remain absolutely silent during the entire procedure of goal-kicking. Recently I've noticed a tendency for the opposition to jeer, whistle and cat-call at this time.

For my own reactions - it depends a lot on whether I'm watching at home alone, with friends, or at the sporting event. For instance with cricket, I won't clap a good shot at home, though I might let out a yelp at the fall of a wicket.

bluedaddy said...

Cheers for this Mac. Good to see several new contributors here.

In tennis (at the serve), golf and snooker the audience is obliged to be quiet at certain points, at the moments of stillness as the protagonists address the serve/shot. This doesn't apply elsewhere, even in baseball, where runners may well be trying to steal bases, which may keep a crowd engaged/involved.

Personally, when watching boxing, most sounds I make are involuntary.

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Mac - splendid to see you here and with a very thoughtful piece.

I've a number of reactions to the piece and will be very interested to read the reactions of others, as I haven't properly thought mine through.

Darts, in recent years anyway, has a structure like tennis or snooker, but is definitely shouty. Nationality is also much less important than personality with Dutchman, Barney a huge hero and Peter Manley a villain.

Wimbledon? It's the preponderance of Union Flags and the (dare I say) discourse, that puts it much closer to a Royal Wedding, or Last Night of the Proms that galls a little. At football, you're shouting at least as much in anger and anxiety as in support - at Wimbledon, it's all "Jolly well played" or "Bad Luck". Not that I have anything against that - I gave Smith and McKenzie a standing ovation at Lord's - but it the pain of defeat seems tiny and out of all proportion to the support.

The other difference is that Wimbledon adopts individual heroes instantly. Steve Davis took 20 years to be supported by the public! Many other individual sports people take a long time to be adopted by the fans (or, like Faldo, are never adopted). Sergio and Padraig are more popular than any British golfer.

The reaction of sports crowds in different situations is an interesting and under-researched subject - thanks for raising it.

munni said...

Very interesting, and I agree with everyone that it's good to have some new blood here.

Like Mouth, I want to think my reactions through before saying more, but a few points that strike me:

You touch on this when you talk about taking turns, but I think particular sports have their own natural rhythm, and the crowd responds in keeping with this, sort of in the same way audiences respond differently at a symphony, or a rock concert, or a jazz club. Football and boxing both start, and then keep moving relentlessly forward until they finish. Tennis, baseball and cricket all ebb and flow. I'm not expressing this very well.

Also, I disagree with you that class is not a factor, although there's been a certain amount of blurring of lines in sport culture, and in the fan-base of various sports over the past few generations. But I don't think you can discount that a sport's protocol has a lot to do with where/how/among whom that sport developed in the first place.

Completely off-topic, but does anyone know why South Africa aren't qualifying automatically for the World Cup? At the moment they're third in their group and nowhere near the playoffs. Interesting.

munni said...

Disregard my off-topic question above. Found out it is because Africa's qualifiers count for both the WC and African Nations Cup.

Mac Millings said...

Thanks all for the warm welcome, and the kind words about the piece. I'm a big fan of the work you all do here, and am excited to be making a small contribution.

Your comments were all well-considered - I will attempt to respond in kind.

Wimbledon was the trickiest part in writing the piece. I felt that fierce partisanship among the crowd was a necessary criterion for the discussion, and while this is easy to find in, say, football, it was harder for some other sports. Among these was tennis - the Davis Cup was the obvious place to look for a baying crowd coupled with high-level competition, but the Wimbledon blogs were the starting point for my piece, so I stuck with The Championships.

I agree (having attended two or three times) that the Wimbledon crowd is a little bit Proms, but I'd say that the basic etiquette of the game, namely silence before and during points, applause and/or cheering afterwards, tends to be followed wherever the game is played, even during the Davis Cup, or when Tim Henman's support was at its strongest. That is to say, the composition of the crowd may be different at Wimbledon than elsewhere, but their general reaction to what they're watching is comparable.

Having said that, Mouth raises an interesting point - the reaction to victory or defeat (i.e., what the crowd does _after_ the match, rather than during it) was not something I had considered. Class may well be a factor; but so might low expectations among British tennis fans going in - lower, perhaps, than for any other sport. I mean, at least we win sometimes at other games (although I hope Andy Murray turns this around in the next day or two...)

I certainly wouldn't say that class isn't a factor in how a crowd reacts; I just think that the nature of each sport is the most important thing, and, for me anyway, the tennis/snooker comparison clinches it.

As for darts, it has been a very long time since I saw any, and while I had included it in my first draft, I didn't feel knowledgeable enough to keep it in. It is shouty, yes, but my memory tells me that the crowd is generally respectful between shots, at least while the result of the match is in doubt. Is that right? If so, I'd venture that it is in keeping with the idea that the pace/format of a sport is the key factor in crowd behaviour.

And if not, then it's not helping. In that case, can we just ignore it? That would really help me out.

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Some academic stuff

http://wlv.openrepository.com/wlv/bitstream/2436/8014/1/Nevill10.pdf

http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~roos/Courses/grstat502/randysmith2002.pdf

http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=JRKGB_X8EE8C&oi=fnd&pg=PA7&dq=crowd+sport&ots=YKL8iUKYin&sig=zQQnN-2pyL6mWg7kGwmuq9t93Jg#PPA7,M1 (chapter on violent sports)

http://www.athleticinsight.com/Vol5Iss2/FanDevelopment.htm

I haven't read these, but they look interesting.

Dissertation supervision ends.

Mac Millings said...

Mouth,

Great work digging up those links. I'll certainly make time to look at them.

It makes what I was going to say seem rather trivial, but here it is anyway...Wimbledon doesn't always adopt individual heroes instantly. If memory serves, it took McEnroe a long while before he was loved, but loved he certainly was in the end. Ditto (I think) Connors.

Also, the Grand Slam tennis tournaments are in the unusual position of consisting, in the main, of matches featuring no player from the host nation. I think the "crowd favourite" phenomenon stems from this, as you have to support someone. Personality plays an important part (as it does in darts, as you poined out).

Golf shares the "crowd favourite" thing - but, it seems to me, for a different reason; as golfers (other than in the Ryder Cup) chiefly represent themselves, not their nation - particularly in run-of-the-mill USPGA/European Tour tournaments; hence during the Majors, although jingoistic support exists, it is far less pronounced than in most other sports.

In these cases, the structure of these sports plays a crucial role, more so, possibly, than their nature/style - though perhaps the two are interlinked, as it seems clear that team sports, which their greater amount of close player interaction, lend themselves better to fervent support along "tribal" lines than do sports of the individual.

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Yes Mac - supporting "the shirt" (demonstrably so) is always important in team sports, but much less so in individual.

If players hang around long enough at Wimbledon, the crowds always seem to warm to them (betting without Buster Mottram http://observer.guardian.co.uk/osm/story/0,,1294841,00.html).

The best example to me was Martina. When she started, the crowd didn't like her taking the crown from Princess Chrissie and that she was so assertive and, well, butch, I suppose. I always liked her, because she treated the game as a sport and that it was clear that she was both intelligent and funny. The Wimbledon crowd took about a decade to catch up with this view and there are few more loved these days.

Zephirine said...

Really interesting article, Mac. I had never thought about it, just taken it for granted that in some sports you have to be quiet and others you don't.

Munni may be right about origins - tennis and golf were originally played between small groups without much audience, and snooker and darts were again small groups in a pub, while football, rugby, cricket etc must have always been about rival villages, schools, factories with groups of supporters? And boxing was always public because it was always gambled on? Or is that a stupid theory, given that I've only just this moment thought it up:)

mimi said...

As always here, a good piece produces really interesting comments.

I don't know if there's a class thing in crowd support. There's probably a drink related reaction with the fans (the drunker they get the louder they shout - even true at home when after a few bevvies my reticence about shouting at the telly magically disappears!).

It's also interesting how in this country - I mean where I live, the UK - very often individuals are taken to the nation's heart after they have finished competing in the top flight. Steve Davis was much maligned when he was winning everything but has become a national treasure now. McEnroe is now looked on as one of the highlights of Wimbledon by people who loathed him as a player. Connors was not much loved, but given a great welcome last year when he turned up in the commentary box last year.

Mac Millings said...

Zeph (and munni),

The origins thing is interesting. I'd have to research it some more - that might not happen _immediately_ though :)

My initial thoughts are that origins may have an influence, but that the nature of each sport trumps all. Football and cricket both, as you say, must always have been played between rival villages/groups; but they are supported differently (cricket less noisily than football), and I'd suggest that it's because the pace and flow of cricket is different; more stop-start, and more about personal battles conducted in consecutive fashion (bowler vs batsman) than is football.

This brings me back to Mouth's contention that the pain of defeat (for the crowd) at Wimbledon seems tiny compared with other sports. I suggested in an earlier comment that this might be to do with lowered expectations, but I've been thinking about it, and I now think that it's consistent with my article (how convenient!)

The nature of football, I've suggested, creates greater crowd fervour - and the heightened emotions result in more joy in victory, and greater despair in defeat, than a sport like tennis, which doesn't rouse you to such highs (or lows) while it's being played. The same goes for the other quieter sports.

Now, it follows that I think that cricket fans suffer less pain in defeat than do football fans (at least, in the immediate aftermath - how long and deeply an individual dwells on defeat well after the fact is more of a personal choice). This might seem offensive to cricket fans (and I count myself among those who consider it their preferred sport). I can't offer any real proof, but I think we can all agree that the cricket blogs are a safer and more reasonable place after big defeats than are their football counterparts.....

Zeph,

I don't think the betting thing is stupid at all. I think the major attraction of boxing is blokes beating each other up, but horse racing elicits passion, and it only exists for the sake of gambling, doesn't it?

Mimi,

I've been thinking about what you said about the recent changes in rugby crowds. Do you think their increased boisterousness is due to a change in their composition, or are they "learning" from other sports? Either way, I think it just means that rugby crowds are becoming more like what the nature of the game itself demands they should be. It would be interesting to know whether their class make-up (or some other factor) was what held them back.

Zephirine said...

All good points, Mac, I can see a thesis building up here, surely you can get a grant for a sociological examination of the nature of applause in sport?

re Wimbledon: I'd suggest that many people go for the event and to watch high quality Tennis in general. They've booked way in advance and may never get to see their favourite player if he/she was knocked out early. So it's a bit more objective.

Football, on the other hand ....

Mouth of the Mersey said...

As an aside, Five Live replayed the whole 53 seconds of the Amir Khan fight this morning and it was superb radio.

offsideintahiti said...

Thanks for a great piece, Mac Millings, and welcome to Pseuds'. Great to see some new writers here, with fine style and interesting angles.

I'd just like to comment on one tiny aspect of your analysis, regarding the difference between tennis and football. In football, a weaker team can get battered, torn apart and flattened for 89 minutes, and hold on heroically, cheat, play the ref, enjoy huge slices of luck, and sneak a 1-0 win at the death. Not so in tennis.

I think the sense of miraculous escape (or cruel injustice, depending which side you're on) heightens the emotions. I suppose the same is true of boxing, when one sucker punch can win you the bout. Come to think of it, it's probably true of most contact sports. Cricket? You tell me.

A thought-provoking article, that's for sure. More, please.

bluedaddy said...

There's a question of 'intimacy' too. In the 'quiet' sports, a single voice can make him/herself heard, even to the point of affecting play (or course this is to a certain extent a chicken & eggish situation). Under such circumstances the issue of civility/personal embarrassment comes into play. Shouting 'Choker' at Tim Henman may alter the outcome of a match, but might also get you ejected, and certainly booed. Calling Frank Lampard a fat so-and-so during a game might win you the odd cheer, but it's very unlikely Lampard will hear anything (cue jokes re Chelsea's silent Tarquins and Ruperts etc).

greengrass said...

Bluedaddy,
I thought that all your Tarquins and Ruperts had defected to do their Trappist thing at Man City.

Mac Millings,
this is a good 'un!
It's certainly not a class thing - crown-green bowling is hardly raucous.

mimi said...

Greengrass - you've obviously never attended a club final of the bowling in Scotland!

greengrass said...

Mimi,
thankfully not!

mimi said...

It's vicious! All those over 60's desperate to get a win.

There is cheating!!

greengrass said...

mimi,
we're obviously referring to different sports.

Mac Millings said...

In case anybody is still here, a couple of thoughts in response to recent comments.

Offie:

The "miraculous escape" idea is interesting. My piece is really attempting to address crowd response *during* a game, but a couple of commenters have brought up post-game reactions, and I agree with your suggestion to the extent that it addresses those post-game emotions, but not regarding in-game crowd reaction.

While it's true that Andy Murray, who was generally battered by Roger Federer yesterday, couldn't have won the game by winning some miraculous, mythical "final point", in a way that an inferior football team can score a last-minute winner, you can, in tennis, be visibly inferior in general play, but win the crucial points (Mouth would be with me on this, I think), and keep yourself in the game - just as Nadal threatened to do in the semi-final. And I think this elevates the *in-game* reaction of the crowd watching the game (although not usually to the level of a football crowd).

On the other hand, by the end of such a game, where it's the 5th set, and either the inferior or superior player could win, at least at that point, we know one thing. It's more or less fifty-fifty between the two players, and there will be no real surprise which one wins. This is not the same as saying one "deserves" to win, or not, depending on their general quality of play. It's just that we have watched the whole match, and we understand the nature of tennis and its scoring system.

Contrast a Champions' League Semi-Final, 2nd leg. The home team has dominated for 89 minutes, and is one up, after a 0-0 draw in the 1st leg. Out of nowhere, the inferior visiting side equalises with the last kick of the game, and goes through on away goals. Of course, the crowd's behaviour was heightened during the game because football is football, and this is a high-stakes match. But the *post-game* reaction is even stronger, because everything during the match pointed to the home side progressing, and the idea of the visitors scoring, while possible, and creating tension, is more of a "surprise" when it comes to pass, because it's not the same 50-50, "we know either this or that will happen" kind of scenario that we saw in the tennis example.

Cricket's a weird one for post-game reaction. First of all,yes, you can be battered for most of the game and still win - see Pakistan-England 2005/6 and Australia-England at Adelaide during the last Ashes series; Headingley 1981 springs to mind also. Now, let's say a Test Match goes until 6pm on the 5th day, and then the home team loses.

It's just not the same as the football scenario. For a start, the crowd hasn't been watching the whole game (TV doesn't count, as we're talking about crowd response). The immediate emotional reaction is surely far less striking than for football (and indeed, many other sports, including its closest cousin, baseball) - and not least because the game doesn't finish on the day it started. An ODI or Twenty/20 would be different, of course.

Bluedaddy:

I had a paragraph on the "intimacy" factor in my first draft, but it got cut. (Is that supposed to be "draught"? I've been in the US too long, and now I can't remember...)

It was about stadium size, and that it didn't matter, because (cutting it short) basketball and ice hockey are in small(-ish) arenas, but are noisy sports, but tennis can be in huge stadia with tens of thousands watching, but they still obey the etiquette - i.e. the nature of the game is what's most important.

Which doesn't really address your point.

I'd say that thems the breaks. The "rules" of being part of a tennis-watching crowd are that you're quiet before the serve (just as you are supposed to be quiet before a snooker shot), but sometimes people break the rules, and the players just have to learn to get used to it.

mimi said...

Mac - them's the breaks! Last night was a very interesting tennis match and Murray lost, but a young boy. Today we've done the biz in the velodrome again and I for one have shouted for the guys.

But also sought out some sounds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eLwnDBkiEk&NR=1

I rather like this. Just when we are playing high class games in the velodrome ....

munni said...

This topic is fascinating.

Re. post-game reaction: my mother, who is not a football fan, has a theory that fan violence is a result of sexual frustration. Infrequent scoring compared to other sports means built up tension with no opportunity for release. It's no use telling her footy violence is far less common than she thinks, but I don't think she's entirely wrong, either.

BD, interesting point, but while one individual may not be heard, there often is a "single voice" comprised of a few thousand people shouting abuse in unison. This is quite audible on the pitch, and usually perfectly acceptable.

offsideintahiti said...

McM,

something to do with collective sports vs. individual sports?

Mac Millings said...

munni:

Regarding the individual, compared with the thousands as a "single voice" - you're quite right, the latter is acceptable in football, the former not in tennis or snooker.

Even though there are skills in any of those games that might be better executed in silence (say, a penalty, in football), the "rules" of football crowds allow shouting, so the footballer isn't afforded the privilege of taking his penalty without abuse, while the tennis player may serve in silence, even if he's the "away" player.

Offie:

Sort of. I think there's more to it than team sports vs individual ones, although that distinction is very important. As I suggested in my piece, boxing is very much one-on-one, but is a "shouty sport". I think it's about close player interaction, and naturally, team sports lend themselves better to this in general than do sports pitting individuals against one another.

An instructive example might be volleyball. In nature, it's quite a lot like tennis (hitting ball across net), but it's a team sport, with passing, and also fairly close interaction between the teams (spiking and blocking at the net). I imagine that the crowd would behave somewhere between a tennis crowd and a football one, but I know next to nothing about the sport, so am in no position to judge. One problem it might have, as a minority sport, is the lack of a large, passionate fanbase, which may lessen its average crowd noise. Again, I don't know enough about it, but if so, that would be a good example of how popularity/cultural status of a sport affects how it is watched.

I might say something similar about handball - again, from a position of little knowledge, but having learned something about it from recent blogs. It seems to be very similar indeed to football, and might therefore be expected to produce similar crowd reactions.

Now, that might indeed be the case in parts of Europe, where it seems to be almost on a par with football, in terms of popularity (can anyone here enlighten me?). But, I'm sure that the crowd at a handball game in England would have nothing like the passion of its football counterpart; I'd suggest that's because the nature of a sport, while the most important factor governing crowd reaction, is not everything, and can be undermined by the sport in question having lowly cultural status in a country, with little or no history behind it, creating few supporters with a burning passion for, as Mouth put it, "the shirt".

Mouth of the Mersey said...

Munni - I don't want to come over all Freudian but the violence / sexual frustration thing has come to my mind many times. And whilst actual violence is rare (it always was, although in the 70s and 80s, the threat was omnipresent, especially at away games), the screaming hate towards players and opposition is fuelled by something more than collective identity. Again, this is a minority, but a substantial number all the same.

Mac Millings said...

munni and Mouth:

My next Pseuds' submission should interest you; it's going to be called "Why We Peel The Labels Off Beer Bottles".

greengrass said...

Strange!
I was sure I found a new article by Mouth on here this morning; I even posted a comment under the pseudo "Slaverin Greengrassic.".

It must be a phase...

offsideintahiti said...

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BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!


BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!


BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

zeph said...

Everybody hates it, Offie, except the guy who sold the system to GU and the (obviously non-blogging) geeks who installed it.

Sigh.

offsideintahiti said...

I SHOUT.

Zeph sighs.

What conclusions can you draw, Mac?

zeph said...

Mayb that the game has been lost, but Offie doesn't want to accept the result..

mimi said...

I haven't been there yet - to the new GU but everywhere the voices tell me it's bad.

I must grit my teeth, buckle my sword and whatever and go visit this vile place.

greengrass said...

I SHOUT.

Zeph sighs.

...get a room!

gg

mimi said...

And this is the case:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUoJhtLxx9I

offsideintahiti said...

gg,

a rhume?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXn2QVipK2o

greengrass said...

offy,
Doug Dog!
You nearly had me spoiling my morning cöffee on my Mac there!

gg

guitou said...

is mac in touch with the big apple ipod, iphone crowd?
-yes it's an intended pun-, and I mean no disrespect for the brilliant observer you are Mac, in my opinion the U.S and french opens brought the art of braggadocio into the sport of tennis-Wathever left of our notion of sportsmanship died into the stands of Roland Garros or Flushing Meadows where it became fashionable to have a loud mouth-
I have a problem with people shouting during a tennis match and i would agree with munni and Mouth about the perversity involved in this kind of behaviour.

Mouth of the Mersey said...

I twice linked this to Ryder Cup MBM e-mails, but neither was printed. I real shame, as it's spot on for that event.

Mac Millings said...

Wow - thanks, Mouth. I'm honestly flattered. Twice!

On the other hand, I happen to know that you emailed in your "Boo and Pou Show" gag twice, too....

MotM said...

Mac - I think I did yes having failed the first time. I have resorted to that once or twice, but rarely. Honest!

Tweet it, digg it