It may be time to count live sporting events among the few places where people finally detach themselves from their smartphones. Through analysis of recent studies, Brett Hutchins of Monash University found that that many ticket buyers reject the growing role that mobile media devices play in their fan experience at stadiums and arenas.
Sports fans generally attend games in order to share the emotions of not only their favorite athletes but also the thousands of strangers in the stands. If they wanted that experience through a screen, they likely would have stayed at home to watch on big-screen TVs as opposed to their comparatively tiny smartphones.
In some cases, it hasn’t been enough for people to simply keep their own phones in their pockets at games. Some fans become irritated with others who focus on their mobile devices rather than the game in front of them. In 2014 at a PSV Eindhoven soccer game, a Wi-Fi network had just been installed to allow free access for smartphone users. While some fans enjoyed it, others held up signs and banners specifically rejecting the new network. Some simply displayed the Wi-Fi symbol with a red cross running through it while others told those using the network to stay at home.
Hutchins points out that some sports franchises and leagues are still enhancing their in-game product for fans who want to use their phones. But he but concludes that stadiums and arenas are places where people prefer to keep their eyes on the field instead of on the phone.
To read the full text of the study: http://journals.sagepub.com.umiss.idm.oclc.org/doi/pdf/10.1177/0163443716635862
Hutchins, B. (2016). ‘We don’t need no stinking smartphones!’ Live stadium sports events, mediatization, and the non-use of mobile media. Media, Culture and Society, 38(3), 420-436.