Most sports have breaks. With football there’s half-time, which is a 15 minute break. NBA basketball has four quarters which gives us two breaks of two, and a halftime break of 15 minutes. On TV, these breaks are filled with commercials. Obviously, when you’re in the stadium, you won’t see any tv commercials. So what do organizers of large sport events do to entertain the public during those minutes?
Three years ago I went to a baseball match of the NY Mets. During (commercial) breaks several cameras scanned the crowd for young couples. One of those couples would get broadcasted in the stadium. The moment they found out they’re visible for the entire stadium, a text appears on the screens, saying “Kiss your girlfriend!” After the kiss, the director puts a new couple on the screen. And on and on. Until the break is over. This kept the entire stadium engaged.
But there’re more ways to entertain. How about clowns during the rodeo or a show by the U.S. Olympic Trampoline team during the halftime break of a basketball match?! (btw, it was a great show!).
The how-to-fill-up-a-break-without-commercials I remember best was during the quarter finals of the 2008 US Open (tennis). Novac Djokovic played against Andy Roddick. During one of the breaks a very familiar tune starts playing in the Artur Ashe Stadium. I know this tune, For the love of money, as the theme to the reality television show The Apprentice. I quickly figured there must be a reason to play this song during a break in the stadium. Maybe The Donald is in the stadium? My heart jumped a bit. Would I really see Donald Trump? Thé Donald Trump?!
My eyes moved towards the large screen in the stadium. At the same time, the stadium speaker introduced “the guy everyone associates with this tune”. And there he was, in full screen, visible for everyone in the stadium. Donald “You’re Fired” Trump. The entire audience started to cheer while The Donald smiled to the camera. My eyes quickly scanned the stadium. Where would he be sitting? I pointed my photo camera to a vip-box in front of me and zoomed in quite a bit. And there he was! To me, the quarter finals of the US Open changed from great to unique.
Last week I went to a football (or is it soccer?) match of Benfica vs. FC Twente in Estádio da Luz, Lisbon Portugal. It was a Champions League qualifier so there’s a lot at stake. The winner of this match enters this prestigious European football league and gets awarded millions of euros (for just entering this tournament).
Since I am not a fan of either home or away team, I would normally choose to support the home team (in this case Benfica). It’s really fun to support any home team, since they usually make the most noise during a match (in this case about 50.000 Benfica fans vs. 150 Twente fans). But there’s a problem. Benfica is Portuguese… Twente is Dutch… I am Dutch also. Not to root for Twente would be close to treason against my country…. And I have no particular reasons to like Benfica. So I rooted for Twente. The away team.
So far so good. I entered the stadium and found my seat on the third tier. I quickly noticed the hard-core Benfica fans were in another part of this Stadium of Light, which is how the stadium is named in Portuguese. I figured this would allow me to cheer for the away team without putting myself at risk. Meanwhile the beautiful Champions League tune started to play in the stadium. Moments later, the game started.
Immediately after, a guy sitting in front of me stood up and started shouting and cheering in Portuguese. Quickly several other supporters followed. It didn’t take long before I, together with three other Dutch people, were surrounded by over-passionate Benfica fans. This resulted in me not knowing what to do. I didn’t want to cheer for Benfica, since this felt like treason. But I also didn’t dare to cheer for Twente. It might simply be too dangerous. Who knows what would happen when this Benfica-guy in front of me would turn around and…
Let’s put it simple. I’m Dutch, Twente is Dutch. I have no particular reason to like Twente other for the fact they’re Dutch. Since Benfica was simply too strong for Twente (the match ended in 3-1) I decided to make as much fun as possible and joined others in singing Benfica songs, et cetera. The Benfica crowd is one of the most passionate I’ve ever seen which made it one of the best matches I’ve ever seen!
Several years ago I started my architectural studies in the Netherlands. Since then, my life accelerated. I lived in five different countries, biked all across the Netherlands, designed a mega church and started working as director. Oh, I also co-founded a company. And I feel like I’m just warming up!