The Final Whistle

“Attention involves the allocation of cognitive resources to deal with multiple inputs at once. Switching, screening, analysing and risk management are all part of normal cognitive processes” (Maloney, 2016). 

Space, place, audience and media are four components that individually affect your viewing experience. Adopting the participant ethnography research method, it allowed me to examine how these component effect others and also myself. This has been proven through my observations while watching the Premier League at a friends house, in my bedroom and at The Star.

Approaching the assessment, my preconceived ideas were that audiences and media would have the greatest impact while viewing the game. However, space and place played a large role in the way each individual enjoyed and focused on the game.

My bedroom

  • My attention span was low and media activity was high and constant.
  • Being alone I was not able to share the excitement of Arsenal scoring with anyone else
  • Watching the game in the comfort of my bed caused me to relax and fall asleep throughout the game unintentionally

My boyfriend’s house

  • Being surrounded by friends made the game enjoyable
  • Media use was average, as during halftime and pauses in the game we would all log onto social media and communicate with others regarding the game
  • ‘Soccer watching etiquette’ allowed each viewer to have a comfortable view of the game and all were mediated by these un-proclaimed rules

The Star – 24/7 Sports bar

  • Attention spans carried as a result of external components and surroundings e.g. alcohol and the crowds of people walking around the casino
  • Atmosphere enhanced the viewing experience, being surrounded by hundreds of strangers who share the same passion for the sport as you creates a welcoming community bond
  • As a result of the interactions with those around us, our media use was roughly 15% of the night
  • However, as a result of a ‘drunk’ spectator, it affected our viewing as a result of insults being taken a bit too far

It is evident how viewing the Premier League in three diverse settings can alter the enjoyment and engagement of the viewer. Furthermore, from partaking in this assessment it has allowed me to identify a range of avenues for exploration for future research. Examples of these would be:

  • How alcohol affects sports fans
  • How the Premier League can incorporate these online sports communities into their halftime commentary and interact with there fan baseArsenal-16-17-kit (1).jpg

Only to name a few. I think observing and researching these areas and sports fan habits are valuable for Premier League stakeholders, it will allow them to identify areas that fans around the world suggest to improve. Potentially changing and revamping the viewing experience all around the world, lessening the need or desire to be at Emirates rather enjoying the game from the comfort of the local pub or home couch.

While the project has come to an end, it definitely has taught me where and who to watch the games with.

Till next time, Up The Gunners!

References:

  • Maloney, S. (2016). Attention, Presence, Place.

Arsenal vs. Swansea

Since beginning the season Arsenal has had 7 wins leading the to second place on the EPL ladder, victory is sweet.

As week 8 of the EPL season was approaching, Arsenal announced that they would be arsenal_vs_swansea_250314.jpgwithout Giroud and Ramsey. However, this did not setback the team, as they took out Swansea in a 3-2 lead. Walcott scoring the first two goals, and Ozil finally stepping up the plate and perfectly executing a volley a great way to celebrate his 28th birthday.

This week’s game was viewed in the comfort of my very own bed, lonesome to say the least but worth it to see the boys fight till the end.

Watching Arsenal play is a favourite pastime of mine, however, what I have found is that the experience is not the same when watching with friends. While the company can often be annoying, it is the people and the atmosphere that create the ultimate viewing experience.IMG_6300.jpg The constant bickering of rivals and the tension as the players dribble the ball up to the goal for execution creates the suspense, and once they score the feeling of relief and happiness is indescribable.

This week was not as enjoyable as the last, while the game was neck-to-neck sitting in bed  alone removed the climax of the game. Listening to myself quietly chant and cheer as Walcott took out the first two goals of the game was just not the same.

Fans do not only connect to sports through stars and places but also through the communication and social currency it generates. Sports events are social gatherings where the supplementary events and experiences are often more important than the actual game. One of the fundamental advantages of social currency is that it appeals to the deeply rooted desire of people to be part of crowds. This factor is critical to the popularity of fan-zones, travelling to away games, viewing parties, sports-bars and – more recently – the dramatic ‘socialization’ of the sports fan.

Fan socialisation ultimately is what has a dominate influence on your viewing experience. I think this was proven correct in my sit in, my viewing habits in comparison to week 4 changed. For example, my media use increased by more than 50% in areas such as social media conversations and media activity. Like my male friends, I began to involve myself in online conversations with my friends and others from around the world. I began to notice that I was using the game almost as background noise while playing games such as 1010! and Candy Crush. My attention would shift to my laptop as the commentators and ground began to create suspense as either team’s were shifting closer to the goals. And due to the early hours of the morning, the comfort of my own bed at the best of times I would often fall asleep.

In the process of viewing this week’s game, I noticed that my movie habits crossed over. These examples are how my attention span and dynamic of my bedroom influence my viewing experience:

  •  The way I assemble my pillows in my bed
  • Positioning of my laptop
  • Every 10 minutes I would put my phone down and focus on the game
  • The process of checking social media: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and finally emails
  • I always eat/chew when there is no speaking or an ad break
  • Room must be dark apart from the laptop and phone

This lonesome viewing experience highlights how the company of an audience enhances the viewing experience. In my opinion, it adds to the atmosphere, making the game more enjoyable to watch. However, it has emphasised viewing habits and attention spans, by viewing the game alone I noticed that I had a constant habit or desire to be on my phone. From a research experiment conducted by Microsoft, it found that “Young respondents were more likely to display addiction-like behaviors when it came to their devices. For example, 77 percent of people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,” compared with only 10 percent of those over age 65. Out of the 18 to 24 age group, more than half admit to checking their phone every 30 minutes or less and over three-fourths used their portable devices while watching TV“. Furthermore, it intertwines the idea of personal devices in a public and private space, in this instance I was in a private space. However, due to my media activity across a range of various platforms, I was participating in public activity.the-new-retail-boundaries-private-vs-public-spaces-of-shopping-9-638.jpg

As a result of viewer habits during games, the EPL has adopted Twitter, Facebook and various other accounts. By doing so it integrates the viewing and social media experience together, therefore blurring this idea of public and private viewing habits.

This week’s viewing experience has taught me how media influences individuals watching experience. And also allowed me to value how good company is when watching one of your favourite sports.

Till next week, Up the Gunners!

Arsenal vs. Southampton

The Premier League season is finally back and to say I am excited is an understatement.

Week 4 into the EPL season Arsenal was set to face  Southampton. After SouthamptonSouthampton-vs-Arsenal-prediction.png
scoring the first goal, in the 29th minute Koscielny legendary bicycle kick settled the score to be 1-1 at half time. However, with 5 minutes extra added to the clock, Cazorla’s last minute penalty gave Arsenal a 2-1 victory over Southampton at Emirates Stadium.

This week I had chosen to watch the game at my boyfriend’s house with some friends. We were a divided audience, and it was safe to say that the banter was at its peak.

Cheering and laughter filled the room as the game became neck-to-neck after half time, like any sporting event a referee is always subjected to hateful remarks. And in this instance, hateful remarks were yelled at the television as three Southampton players were rewarded a yellow card, and the “banta” did not stop there.

Throughout the game, I began to observe the social media habits of myself and also my
friends. For myself, I noticed that my mind wandered more at the beginning of the game, my social media activity was at a high as I found that I was not as interested in the first 30 minutes of the game in comparison to the 65 minutes remaining. Whereas observing the boys around me, after every five minutes each one would log onto Facebook to post something in the sports chat or access Twitter. From there, conversations would circulate during the game around certain players and dispute certain official calls.

“Through social media, fans not only connect with sport teams and leagues, but the athletes themselves have accounts which allow potentially millions of fans to connect personally to the athletes and their teams. This direct connection has allowed fans to now be a part of the sport organization’s story.” – Dr. Alyssa Tavormina.

It is becoming increasingly evident that social media is having a profound effect on the way sports fans interact and watch sports. It is almost like their social media activity adds to their viewing experience, a friend said that it adds an extra commentary section which is both informative and entertaining. Mashable have designed an infographic which displays how social media is changing our sports experiences, http://mashable.com/2012/04/27/sports-social-media-2/#9_5J3wwr8kqf.

While the night was all fun and games, I noticed that unenforced rules began to emerge such as:

  • During a good play, no one was allowed (or did) speak
  • The ‘banter’ came to a halt when we each realised it began to become a bit much
  • Once the game resumed after halftime, we all were back in the same spots as no one wanted to shift the unexamined balance of the room

After everyone left I began asking my boyfriend why he thinks these rules were unknowingly followed, he responded: “to tell you the truth its just ‘soccer watching etiquette’, rules that we’ve just unknowingly followed and its mediated everyone”. I thought this was interesting, that these rules were based on seating and speaking rather than focus on social media or what is going on around them.

From reflecting on this sit in with my friends I wanted to decipher why they added to my viewing experience?  I noticed that we feed off each others enjoyment and passion of the sports, while we were a group divided it was this division that created an energetic atmosphere. It can be said that “sports bonds people together“, while we may not have a continuous conversation circulating, “sports isn’t replacing other, more worthwhile topics of conversation between those sons and fathers, it’s just adding a level of closeness that would not be there without it“. It is this ‘bond’ that created an enjoyable atmosphere while my engagement was not at its peak, it was the influential attitudes that drew my attention more so to the game than usual.

It is the norm to say that having our eyes glued to social media we become anti-social, however in the case of this event we were becoming more social than ever. Not only with each other but from people around the world, and also individuals watching the game first hand.

Despite being in Oran Park in front of the television, having a valuable group of friends that share the same interest in sports as you enhances your viewing experience. The energetic atmosphere of Emirates stadium is also replicated in our lounge room.

Where is your favourite place to watch sports?

Till next week, up the Gunners!

An English Premier League Experience

Space – What is around you. Place – Where you are. Audience – Who is viewing.

These three key themes frame our understanding of the modern media environment. The evolution of television and the way audiences view media content has dramatically changed and is constantly evolving.

This evolution is illustrated in the practice of viewing sports on television, which has Archie Williams interview.jpgprogressed with technology; in 1936 Berlin Germany was the first television viewing station to watch the Summer Olympics of that year. This was the World’s first live stream of sports. Fast forward decades later and viewing your favourite team from anywhere in the world play has been more portable and widely accessible than EVER. Smartphone apps and online streaming services now allow the viewer to watch games instantaneously.

From antennas to live streaming sports, broadcasting companies now are offering bundles of sports channels; for example, Foxtel Australia offers the sports combo for $51 per month, consisting of channels such as all Fox Sports channels, beIN Sports etc. While lounge-projector-screen.jpgthese companies are offering various subscription packages, public spaces are purchasing and promoting these channels to encourage sports lovers to view the current games. An example of this would be Star City Casino’s  24/7 Sports Bar, a popular public space where sports, gambling and alcohol is on the agenda for the wild Saturday night and also available everyday throughout the week.

As a sports lover, going out with friends a soccer or NRL game is a great pass time for me. In particular, we favour watching the English Premier League  (EPL) with a strong focus on Arsenal. Living in Australia at first, it was rather difficult to view a live game, simply due to the time difference, not to mention access to various streams. However as of the start of this year Optus bought the rights to broadcast all EPL games, which has enabled greater access.

As a result of the love I have for watching EPL,  my digital project will be based on remote_image_ece3c110f8.jpgviewing selected games, and monitoring media habits in relation to several of the key theories we have discussed this session (list these: eg public vs. private space) . I have chosen to watch the game in my own home, at a friends house and in a public space. By doing so I will be measuring and examining:

  • My attention levels (how often I lose interest, how often I look at my phone etc)
  • Observing the actions of others
  • How the atmosphere varies and influences viewing experience
  • Are there un-proclaimed rules that we have to follow

Ultimately through experience and observations, I want to find out how space, place and audience influence an individuals viewing experience and learn how the levels of enjoyment differ each time. In pursuing this project stakeholders such as EPL viewers, owners of such public spaces and broadcasting companies can gather a wider understanding of how space, place and audience ultimately affect a viewers experience. Ultimately begin working towards how to enhance and cater to audience viewing and these various trends in a variety of different places.