“When we were young the future was so bright. The old neighbourhood was so alive.”
This lyric from The Offspring’s hit song “The Kids Aren’t Alright” is a good way to describe the current state of spectator sport in Potchefstroom. If you replace ‘neighbourhood’ with ‘stadium’ then you get the idea.
Stadium attendances have died down over weekends the past couple of years nationwide and Potchefstroom is not immune to the clutches of live television broadcasts that bring sport straight into our living rooms. The tales of yesteryear when Olën Park was full of rugby hungry fans on the “hoenderstellasies” seems like a forgotten dream.
Still, sport will never be the same if there are no fans or true supporters who weekend after weekend go and support their favourite team – that is the lifeblood of sport and why we enjoy watching it live. It creates that “I was there moment” that plays a big part in our lives.
Live sport creates hope, fear, anger, jubilation and despair – Where else can you experience as many emotions on one night?
Sport normally attracts its fans from a young age, parents who take their children to watch matches and see their heroes in action – have those heroes disappeared or do we no longer see sportsmen and woman as our heroes?
I long for the sporting fan who supports his team every weekend, is clothed in team colours, shouting words of encouragement, berating the referee, and feeling the happiness or sorrow of a team after a match. It seems that these people are few and far between and a product of lost generation.
There must be a way to attract the younger generation to watch live sport in Potchefstroom, especially provincial rugby matches. The Varsity Cup is definitely hitting all the right notes in that regard as they cater for the fans and truly makes it a fan experience to remember. The crowd is an active participant and not just a spectator.
I believe most sports in Potchefstroom should start adapting this entertainment based model – sport should be of excellent quality and yes if a team wins then surely support will come in – but it is as much about promoting sport as an entertainment event as well. Get the marketing done right, and people will go to the stadiums.
Moving live event to weeknights on a Monday or Wednesday could also bear fruit if done right, but a culture for sporting weeknights in Potchefstroom will take time to establish.
It is our job as journalists and media to get the fans excited and to build expectancy for sporting events. It is the job of sport organisers and players to keep the fans happy and entertained at the match. Getting that balance right will get fans back to the game.
Sport is an interesting carnival where teamwork from all stakeholders has a role to play in keeping our mad sporting nation on a joyride rather than a broken merry go round.