Sports event

A sporting event after Covid-19 could be better than ever thanks to the virus

You don’t have to be a genius to note that 2020 and 2021 so far have been pretty bad when it comes to getting together and doing awesome things together. Like going to music concerts, like going to big football matches, sharing experiences with our friends and those around us. It’s been a decade since we last did something like this, rather than a year or so.

There has been a lot of talk about how, when we come back to events, it will be a limited version of what we have known and loved. Two thousand people in an arena of fifty thousand, all socially distanced. Don’t hug a stranger when your team scores the winner. No crowd surfing.

Insofar as Covid-safe events do not look like reality at all. Deprived of the experiences that make attending live events the fun they are. And they will also cost more, as it is not free for sites to put additional measures in place to keep Covid safe. Moreover, we could rationally demand this for our own personal safety, and pay more for it too, because American academics John Whitehead, Brad Humphreys, Garry Wagner and Pamela Wicker found.

Paying more for things we never thought about and getting a sports show deprived of many of the things that make it so special to us.

Having said that, how many times have we been frustrated by things that kept us from experiencing it when we could experience it? Huge queues for a beer and a burger, which means we’re missing the action? Personally, I vividly remember missing the first goal of the Europa League final in Baku in 2018 because I wanted to have a beer at half-time.

Perhaps, however, Covid-19 will bring about a positive change here. Why can’t we order food and drink through our cell phones? Why can’t they then have taken us to our place, or can’t we pick them up when our phones tell us they’re ready? Why can’t tech handle this so that you don’t have to queue and miss the action?

This is certainly what Adam goodyer and Real life technology let’s hope, because they’ve been pioneering the big event experience via mobile telecommunications for over six years now, working with over 70 different sports and entertainment venues. They specialize in the digital experience – mobile ordering, mobile apps enabling 1-to-1 communication between entertainment providers and fans, and ticketing. Digitize our experience – not to decrease it, but to increase it.

If I can order my pint and hamburger at halftime from my seat and descend to have it at halftime without having to approach anyone in an enclosed space within the stadium, then my experience has certainly improved. Yes, I can chat with my friends in the queue, but I prefer to chat with them while watching the events in the stadium. And in the days of Covid, not having to stay in an enclosed space with lots of other people for long can only be a good thing. Indeed, academic research by Matthew Olczak of Aston University, and Matthew Yeo and myself at the University of Reading, suggest that halls and pavilions at outdoor sporting events can promote the spread of a virus like Covid-19.

So I think it’s reasonable to say that in fact we all hope so. Even the suppliers themselves. Realife Tech was at the heart of Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev fights at Wembley Arena in December, where a thousand fans attended, and they found the per capita income to be higher at this event than is usually the case for similar events.

The technology is not expensive, nor heavy either. We all have a lot of the technology in our pockets already in our phones, like most sports venues in digital tills that can receive the data containing our orders in real time. This means that even in the most rustic types of places it can be attractive. I’m more likely to get my pint and burger if I don’t have to stand in line, and I doubt I’m the only one. Minimal investment of small sports clubs, concert halls and increased revenues. A classic win-win situation.

Of course, it will take a bit of culture change. In the UK for some reason we get up to do things – we buy our beers at the bar, for some reason the table service is more continental, more foreign. But Covid already changed that when we went back to pubs in the summer as the first wave wore off. Why wouldn’t we do the same at sporting and musical events?

Laws may also need to change. In the UK we can’t enjoy beers in the stands while watching a football game, a hangover from the days of hooliganism and bad behavior fueled by alcohol in the 1970s and 1980s. But our sites are so different today compared to the time, with all-seater structures that are suitable for families. Is it possible that everything has changed, so that we can do things differently, and better now?

Companies like Realife Tech are on the cutting edge of technology and do their job – to make life better. Make changes that make it better for all of us. Once the issue of the refreshment queue at entertainment venues is resolved, there is only one type of queue left at these events – that of the washroom. If tech companies can queue for the bathroom a thing of the past, it will be much better. And with the kind of advancements Realife Tech is making and showing, it might not be a pipe dream after all.


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