Champagne protest against ultra-digital world

Social media is ubiquitous with the fan experience at sporting events.

Not all are in favor with the introduction of Wifi into stadiums. In 2014, fans of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven protested the introduction of better Wifi access at Philips Stadion as a measure that would detract from the atmosphere at matches.

It should be noted, though, that the sight of fans sitting glued to their smartphones is something you're more likely to see at a baseball game with constant pauses than a soccer match with its non-stop action.

The introduction of such tools as Facebook Live and Twitter's Periscope and Vine loops has complicated how clubs control the distribution of live action and highlights. Clauses in season-ticket contracts have been introduced to ban the description and analysis of games by any means, theoretically preventing a fan from texting a friend with an update on how the game he's attending is going.

But as Paul Levy, as a D.C. United season-ticket holder since 1996 and an attorney with the consumer-rights group Public Citizen, noted, the language of the recently enacted Consumer Review Fairness Act, designed to get at non-disparagement clauses, forbids any form of contractual limits on consumers sharing such things as "pictorial review" and "performance assessment" and will limit the institution of such blanket prohibitions that was included in his original 2017 season-ticket agreement.

But smaller clubs fear the pervasive nature of social media has hurt attendance. Reims, a European giant in the 1950s and early 1960s but now a struggling French second division club, took the drastic step of shutting down all its social media platforms for five days in the buildup to Monday night's Champagne derby against Troyes in Domino’s Ligue 2. (Yes, Domino's is title sponsor of France's second division!)

"Un derby ça ne se suit pas, ça se vit" ("you don't follow a derby, you live it") was the slogan of the Reims campaign.

Benjamin Parrot, Reims' director of communication and media, noted the cruel paradox of the club's social media efforts: the better the club did in terms of its digital engagement, the poorer was its attendance. Parrot wouldn't say the trends were tied together -- "communauté en hausse, affluence en baisse" ("community higher, attendance lower") -- but he added that it was important to fight against the ultra-digital world in which fans live and preserve the in-game experience -- which at Reims dates back to 1945-46, its first pro season in Ligue 1.

The digital boycott seemed to work. The Champagne derby drew 13,782 fans -- the largest crowd of the season at the 21,100-seat Stade Delaune.

And after the 2-0 win over Troyes, which put Reims in second place at the Christmas break, the club web site added a third part to its derby slogan: "ça se savoure!" ("you don't follow a derby, you live it ... and you savor it!").

1 comment about "Champagne protest against ultra-digital world".
  1. :: SilverRey ::, December 20, 2016 at 10:26 a.m.

    Honestly, I'm fine with no wi-fi at stadiums. You miss too much even just having a small text conversation.

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