How & Why Sporting Events Transformed Into Theatrical Productions Reply

An eternal fan favorite -- an air cannon firing T-shirts into the stands

An eternal fan favorite — an air cannon firing T-shirts into the stands

By Chris Simmons

Readers of Human Chess are familiar with my position that all communication is theater. Recently, I realized that this perspective holds true in other arenas as well.

I attended a Major League Baseball game after a decades- long hiatus and almost immediately was intrigued by the way baseball is, in many regards, less of a sporting event than full-blown theater.

The “show” began with a pre-game picnic at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. As we made our way to our seats, we passed countless souvenir stands and bars where socializing continued. Game time arrived and the real theatrics started: air cannons firing T-shirts into the stands, mascot races around the infield, the always popular “kiss cam,” the seventh-inning stretch and the fans’ thunderous rendition of “Take me out to the ballgame,” the entertaining antics of the food vendors, televised contests between fans and ballplayers, the end-of-game fireworks, and so forth.

The theatrical aspects reshaped the game from a spectator sport into a full-blown participatory experience. Had it simply been about the game, the fans would have watched it from home. Instead, it truly was about making memories – the camaraderie of friends, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn on a cool summer afternoon, the hope of scoring a T-shirt, etc. In short, it was a great performance by two great teams – but one made possible in large measure by a very enthusiastic and engaged support staff. Well done Pirates – you delivered an experience I and many others look forward to repeating. After all, wasn’t that the intent?

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