Athletes and the right to not be distracted

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Gazpacho, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    A comment on another forum got me thinking: How much do athletes have the right to protection from spectator distractions? What is the appropriate way to deal with intentionally distracting fans?

    I'm torn about some issues. Competitive athletes should have the ability to see past their distractions and not be a whiny sore loser or sue event organizers for losing. But I also dislike the idea of engineered attempts to sabotage an athlete. It's one thing to cheer for your favorite athlete. It's another to deliberately mess with another athlete.

    Here are some common issues and my take. What are your opinions?

    Flash photography
    When it raises safety issues, such as with gymnastics and diving, it should be banned, and spectators violating the policy should be dealt with swiftly and harshly.

    But what happens if people take photos anyway? Should Tom Daley have been given another dive because of camera flashes?

    Free throw shots
    Home town advantage is a given, but with free throws, I feel kind of uncomfortable with the idea of visually disorienting opponent players. It appears the NBA, and its players, accept the practice of fans on the court ends waving to distract a free throw shot. What about rotating disks that screw with a player's sense of orientation? What if people coordinate flashing lights to maximize the visual disorientation?

    Heckling
    At what point does heckling become harassment, and even if it is harassment, should it be banned if it does not involve physical threat to the athletes or other spectators?

    Dealing with distracting spectators
    What should be the rules, who should set them, and how do you ensure that they are consistently enforced? Should these rules be made clear to spectators before they buy their tickets?

    Should athletes have a say in it? From this article:

    Other spectators' right to enjoy the experience
    Should that factor into the issue? Personally, I think it should, but I don't know to what extent. When athletes are heckled and harassed, the other spectators suffer too because they're put in an uncomfortable volatile environment. Heysel is an extreme example and thankfully very rare. But I do feel that by allowing excessive heckling and harassment, event organizers are being unfair to other spectators.
  2. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

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    I just skimmed through your post, but the main thing that popped into my head when I saw this thread was this: sport is not just for the athletes; it's for the spectators too. Without people watching, paying, caring, it ceases to be a "sport" and more of a skills demonstration. Sure, playing in front of a rowdy crowd might be a little distracting for your game, but can you imagine a basketball final in an empty arena? Like it or not, spectators are nearly as much of the sport as the athletes themselves, and athletes have no right to whine when the natural effect of an impassioned crowd comes into play.

    That being said, safety is NUMBER ONE and obviously all crowd distractions that would lead to unsafe conditions should never be allowed, ever. Event organizers work very hard to prevent problems like light flashes before they begin with frequent reminders and swift removal if the rule is violated.

    After that, the only thing athletes have the right to ask for is good sportsmanship from the spectators. It's absolutely okay to get behind your team and cheer to your hearts content, but we all know there is a line and I don't think it gets crossed TERRIBLY often. I don't have a big problem with the home team getting noisy during free throws and stuff like that. It's not your arena, so deal. The athletes on the receiving end of the noise gets to have the tables turned when they travel home. As long as nothing unsafe or abusive is being done by the crowd, then deal.

    Anyway, I think acceptable fan behavior varies from sport to sport depending on circumstances. It's widely accepted that big arena sports like football, hockey and basketball get LOUD, while it's good etiquette to be quiet on a golf course and to be mindful of the music and whatnot at a sport like figure skating or gymnastics. I don't think it would be appropriate for say, a basketball crowd at a PGA tourney or a uber quiet golf crowd at a ice hockey game.

    Sorry, it's late and I dunno if I even make any sense, lol.
  3. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    I think the concept of golf in a bubble is dead. Golfer's need to adapt to noise as soon as they're good enough to compete in events that attract more than a handful of spectators. The " quiet please" sign needs to go as its much easier to concentrate with a constant din than it is if most of the folks are quiet and only a few are noisy.
  4. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    Those statements/actions by the golfers I mentioned certainly sound whiny and wimpy when you consider that gymnasts compete on a four inch beam with the crowd and another gymnast's floor music in the background.

    At the same time, the gymnasts are so used to it and have grown up with it, so they can tune it out more easily than a golfer who hasn't had to deal with it, and it's harder to adapt when you're older.

    Are there entry fees for golf tournaments with contracts signed? If not, then suing event organizers for allowing non-flash photography and having snarky spectators removed by police is outrageous. If there are entry fees, then I can see a valid argument.
  5. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    It seemed to me that Todd Eldredge's opening up on the triple axel in the 1998 Worlds short program (which ultimately cost him the title) was due to camera flashes in his face as he took off for that jump. But he never said anything about it that I'm aware of.
  6. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    Julia Sebestyen's fell in the SP at 2003 Worlds, and her program was followed by an exasperated re-re-warning from the announcer about flash.
  7. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    For the skating examples, do you think the athletes should have been entitled to a do-over such as was given to Tom Daley at the London Olympics?
  8. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    I'm not sure the two can be compared.
  9. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    Do you think Tom Daley should have been given a re-dive?
  10. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    I do but I'll qualify that by saying I only watch diving during the Olys so don't know anything about the rules.
  11. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the athletes have a "right" not to be distracted, as they are playing in sports that have spectators.

    But I do think the spectators have a "right" to enjoy watching what they paid to see, and not to be annoyed by inappropriate behaviour by other spectators. E.g. At baseball games at Safeco Field in Seattle, the ushers (or audience experience enhancement monitors, or whatever their corporate-speak job title is) have signs that they hold up at the top of the stands stopping people from wandering up and down the aisles during an at-bat. I really appreciate this because it means I don't have to get up and move to let some beer drinking bozo climb in front of me while I'm trying to see what's happening on the field.

    Safeco is also very good about throwing out people who are excessively rowdy and/or abusive, although IME what's considered "excessively rowdy" varies from ballpark to ballpark. If Safeco's standards were applied in e.g. Boston, there would be very few people left in the stands :lol:
  12. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

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    I think I agree. I also think, athletes have the "right" to respect. Which means spectators following certain rules to ensure the athlete is able to perform the best they can. And that's got nothing to do with them being athletes but I'd say everyone has a right to be respected. And it also ensures, I would think, that the spectator gets the most out of what they paid for because everyone would be able to perform at their best :)
  13. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    When the home team is playing, fans don't want the other team to do well. That's why they try to distract them when they shoot free throws. Or in the Davis Love case, the other guy obviously didn't want Davis Love to do well since he's a Tiger Woods fan.

    I wonder if golfers demanding that spectators get kicked out will fly at the Olympics. If not, I can foresee major upsets. Or maybe they'll make all the spectators stand back?
  14. morqet

    morqet Active Member

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    I agree with you on this point, but for me, enjoying what I've paid to see means that I get to see the athletes I'm watching performing at the peak of their abilities - so not being distracted by flash photography, shouts from the crowd when they should be quiet and so on. Equally, I think most people understand when they buy a ticket for an event, they are expected to adhere to a certain standard of behaviour & can't do whatever they want as they would when watching at home.
  15. Spareoom

    Spareoom Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, but that standard of behavior can and should vary by sport. Basketball and football are pretty much going to be loud all the time, while figure skating will vary between loud and quiet depending on the point in the competition, and golf is a fairly quiet sport. What is acceptable fan behavior in one venue isn't in another.
  16. morqet

    morqet Active Member

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    I never said it shouldn't. You buy a ticket for an event, you are expected to behave by the standards of that event. I didn't think it would need spelling out.
  17. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Diving's rules clearly allow for it. (From FINA)
    It is up to the referee to decide what is exceptional, Daley could have asked for a re-dive and been told no. I wouldn't think the same thing would be applicable for skating, because of the ways the rules are written. (Not to mention skating being a continuous thing, not a single skill). From a fan's perspective it does seem pretty similar to the discussions about the allowed medical break, and what constitutes an allowable need to stop, and where the program should be picked up from. Lots to argue about 'fairness'.

    However, if Yuna Kim skates in the Olympics in Korea, we may see if there is a restart when she is blinded by flashes at her first jump... the idea terrifies me, since her fans seem to be especially rabid.
    Hopefully fans will respect the rules of the arena. And I think that is the most important thing. For different sports there are different audience conduct. Basketball players should expect unruly fans during free throws, gymnasts expect tons of noise, golfers expect quiet, and skaters/divers/any other sport where they tell you not to do that should not have to deal with flash photography.
  18. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    While I think noise and rude comments are unfortunate. And, I would hope that common sense and courtesy would always be the norm. That is not the case. Those things can be distracting, but I do think that professionals should be able to ignore them or channel it into fighting harder to win. Flash photos, however are a whole other thing. They are not simply distracting, they can temporarily blind the person and cause physical harm. People who use flash photography should be made to leave an event. And if an athlete is injured because of their carelessness, they should be punished.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2013
  19. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    I agree, which is why the golfers I mentioned seem like wimpy sore losers.

    I wish they could implement a rule in which someone caught using flash would have their camera confiscated for good. It would be announced at the beginning of the event and also at the time they purchase their tickets.
  20. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    They do announce, at skating events, that flash photography is not permitted. But, people do it anyway. I don't know if they can confiscate the camera, but they certainly can make them leave. Maybe it should be printed on the ticket, like a contract. so, if they violate the contract, the ticket is void and they have to leave.
  21. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    Yes, there are entry fees. The lowest ones are on the LPGA futures tour - $500 a pop. It goes up from there. Players pay $5,000 to compete at the PGA tour qualifying school.

    Bubba Watson encouraged the crowd to cheer at the Ryder Cup and again at the 17th hole in Phoenix (a notorious party hole). He said that the constant noise was fine and he preferred that to having one person make a noise when everyone else is quiet.
  22. misskarne

    misskarne Spirit. Focus. Ability. Tenacity. Aussie Grit.

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    When I was announcing for our little comp the other weekend, I made a point of telling people not to use flash photography, but I also explained why. It seems to me that the standard spiel is "Please remember, no flash photography is allowed" but no-one ever says why. Even if at comps the announcer just said, "Please remember, no flash photography as it is very dangerous for the skaters" it would be better. Regulars know why flashes are banned, but casuals might not and might think that they say that because they want people to buy the official photos. (No lie, I actually had this argument with a parent at the rink one day. "Oh, it's just so the official photographer makes more money!")
  23. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    All of the skating tickets I have ever bought (admittedly not that many) state on the back on the ticket that no flash photographer is allowed and that they are able to confiscate your camera and/or make you leave. There are several other rules, too, but I can't remember them. I don't think it makes any difference. The Chinese also use flash photography at the ballet, open, acrobatics etc. etc.
  24. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    It's a good thing to make announcements but I've found that it's not enforced at most of the comps or shows I've been at. Yeah, sometimes there's a zealous usher who jumps on any infraction but generally, no. I arrived late at a comp one evening due to a flight delay and when I got there the usher wanted to lead me to my seat (close to the ice) in the middle of a free skate. When I said I'd wait until the skate was done she looked at me like I was crazy. :lol:
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2013
  25. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Good point. Maybe if people understood the reason, they would follow the rule. Though, I suspect there would still be a few who don't think they have to follow any rules.
  26. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    Some people just might not know how to use their cameras. My camera was broken at the time of Nats and I was using my mother's and had a hard time figuring out how to turn the flash off (and heck if she knew--she has low vision and can't read the menu options at all so she just uses it set on automatic for everything). I deleted a lot of pics of my lap and the floor while trying to make sure it wasn't on because at the beginning second session, I discovered it had come back on "automatic flash", fortunately that was when I took a picture of empty ice before the warm-up started. Some people might not be so careful and unintentionally have the flash on.
  27. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    I'm shocked they don't explain why it's necessary for safety reasons. It's common sense for them to do so.
  28. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I've been to a few Nationals and Internationals, where they have and some where they have not. Honestly, it doesn't stop people who are going to take flash photos regardless. What I don't understand is why they think they need to use a flash. The flash has a very short range. Not close to enough range to light the skater on the ice. In fact, with the flash on, the camera is more likely to account for the flash and you wind up with a darker photo.
  29. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

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    I think they put it on Auto, and the flash goes off, and they don't realize it until they've already taken the picture.
  30. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Even with a camera on auto, you can easily turn the flash off. I think people have a responsibility to know how to operate their camera and be respectful of the athletes. I realize that some people will occasionally make a mistake, that is certainly forgivable. But, there are many who just don't care and don't fix the flash after they realize it's on. In some sports, that is annoying. In others, like skating, it's down right dangerous.
  31. kwanfan1818

    kwanfan1818 I

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    If this hasn't been an issue until now with Kim's fans, I don't know why it would be any more likely for them in particular in Sochi.

    In almost every competition I've been to in the last decade, the announcer has followed with "It is dangerous for the skaters."

    That's why it's important to take a test photo and get feedback on whether there's a flash. I often see/hear that happening, and it takes about five seconds to ensure you're not being disruptive.
  32. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I had an older camera that would turn itself off, if I didn't use it for 5-10 minutes. Sometimes I would forget that I had to re-turn off the flash when I "restarted" the camera. I just never brought it to skating competitions.