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Bringing the armchair crowd to live sports events

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The recent football World Cup highlighted just how global the game is.  Whilst thousands flocked to stadia throughout Brazil to watch matches live, there were billions watching the game on television in pubs, homes and other venues around the world.  Organizers are obviously keen to encourage an excellent atmosphere in the stadiums themselves, but a new app is aiming to bring some of those armchair supporters into the collective atmosphere too.

The app, called Fanmode, aims to offer armchair supporters a range of ways they can contribute their support to the venue itself.  For instance, if they swipe the app, it registers a cheer.  If they swipe down it’s a boo, a tap is a clap.  Heck, you can even wave your phone like you’re waving a flag should you wish.

If you register a set number of these actions, you qualify for a ‘super cheer’, which can be delivered by swiping right on your phone.  Now, suffice to say that none of these things actually have any impact upon the noise in the stadium itself, although they can be collectively added to what is known as a ‘Vibeboard’, which is a digital dashboard that fans access online, but that can also be displayed live in the stadium should the organizers wish.  The suggestion is that this will allow players and other fans to see the support they’re receiving too.

It all seems a far cry from the traditional football going experience, and there is a hardcore matchgoing group that are opposed to all of these type of developments.  This group is perhaps typified by supporters of the Dutch team PSV Eindhoven who during the opening match of their season against NAC Breda protested against the decision by their club to offer Wi-Fi at the stadium.

The fans were angered by the decision because they thought that it would encourage people to have their heads stuck in their phones rather than watching the match and supporting the team.  Banners were hoisted around the stadium protesting the decision, adorned with messages such as Fuck Wi-Fi, support the team.

When I read about the Fanmode app, I pictured those same PSV fans and the expression on their face as they see people cheering on their team by swiping their finger across a mobile phone.  It all seems just a little bit naff, even if done in a pub or something.  After all, half of the pleasure of watching a game, live or otherwise, is the camaraderie you have with your fellow supporters.  It’s hard to see how mucking about with your phone will do anything but harm that.

What do you think?  How would you feel if people started doing this whilst you were watching the game?

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