I remember the day I visited the Humour Me office for my interview. Dhruv Sachdeva, the founder, asked me a question that caught me off guard. Are sports and entertainment the same thing? I stumbled as I tried to tell him that they were polar opposites but I could not validate my argument. Being at Humour Me for the past month, I slowly began to realise that I had no leg to stand on when it came to differentiating the two.
From tennis courts being made slower so that rallies last longer to superstars owning sports teams to attract more viewers, I realized that sports is within the realm entertainment. Sport is a spectacle. Starting from the promotional ads that are shown to create hype around the event to the ultra-slow motion replays and analysis that come after a game is over, it’s all for the purpose of entertainment.
Every year before the Playoffs the NBA shows us highlights of iconic moments accompanied by legendary commentary that makes a fan excited about being a potential witness to history. Large numbers of people tune into the Superbowl only to see how much bigger the halftime show has become. This year, there were more Twitter mentions of the halftime show than there were of the actual game despite the fact that the halftime show lasts only for a fraction of the entire telecast.
I began to look at sports from the entertainment perspective, where each tournament is a season of a TV show and each match is an episode. The first few episodes lay the ground work, and give us a background into the story. The twists within the season keep us intrigued as favourites lose, or underdogs continue to win. The quarter and semi-finals are where the intensity builds up, where the competition between the leading characters becomes fierce. As a fan of a singular team or player I look at them as the hero, and the others as villains. Thus setting up the finale as a grand showdown between a hero and a villain, much like any TV show.
It wasn’t just the structure that had intrigued me, it was the process. The ‘Coming Soon’ posters, the ads of triumphs that had passed and watching the players themselves asking the fans to be ready all reminded me of one thing. It reminded me of how movies were talked about. Movie posters and trailers months before the actual release and tours that movie personas would embark on to plug their movies on talk shows or reality TV programs.
I watched promotional materials of the past, and conducted thorough research to find amazing similarities. The lead actor is the best performer, the story line is in each event and the anthem or the song used in promotional material became equivalent to the item song or the soundtrack of a series or tournament. Each IPL team, for example, has an anthem. An anthem that works in the same way an item song does, it gathers traction and love for the team and its players.
Being a sports fan my entire life, I never thought sports could be considered the same as entertainment. I always thought of it as something unique, but at the end of the day I realized the elements all added up. All sports are a spectacle and the networks need viewers for their shows. The way I see it, sports are a form of entertainment. Their businesses are run in the same way and the treatment of their superstars is similar in many ways. But most importantly any TV show, movie or live performance sets out to do the same thing as any sport does for their audience, entertain.