The need (or lack thereof) for quiet at different sporting events

I’ve been wondering about this for years. People watching golf are supposed to be quiet. No cell phones on, etc. Okay, I understand that. A ringtone at the wrong time could disturb the golfer, causing him or her to miss a putt or slice a drive.

Here’s the part I don’t understand. At gymnastics matches, there are teenagers (and younger) flipping around on top of a four-inch balance beam. In the background, music for floor exercise is booming from speakers. The crowd is cheering or booing loudly at random moments.

Golfers could lose a match, so everybody must be silent so they don’t break their concentration. Gymnasts could be paralyzed (or possibly killed), but nobody has any problem with a noisy crowd (and music) there. Those kids are just supposed to focus, I guess. :confused:

Yes, tradition’s involved, but still.

IMO it is because golfers grow up playing in a nearly silent environment, become good at playing in that environment and therefore demand that environment when playing professionally.

Tennis used to be this way, with photographers not allowed to use power winders to take pictures during matches in the 60’s and 70’s. Now you hear auto winders being used all the time in matches.

I too find it amusing that hitting a stationary ball requires silence, but hitting a baseball coming at you at 100 mph with 60,00 screaming fans is not a problem.

IOW I don’t think it is historical tradition as much as the environment that was experienced when the individual was ascending the ranks in each sport.

On Digital Cameras? :dubious:

Tennis still requires quiet for the serve. However, I have no idea why some sports do this and others do not.

Professional bowling. Your regular hometown alley is quite a noisy place. I’ve never understood why such deep silence is observed at professional matches.

I sometimes wonder if players that are used to noise would be unnerved by unexpected silence. Imagine it’s game seven of the NBA finals. It’s a close game, in the final minutes. A player on the visiting team is fouled. He steps to the line for his free throws, bounces the ball and lines up the shot, and instead of all the cheering and people waving things behind the backboard, the whole arena suddenly goes quiet as a church. Think that would get inside the guy’s head?

…when professional beer drinking doesn’t pan out. :smiley:

I dunno, I think there is a slight difference here.

If you’re doing a gentle motion from a relatively inactive start then sudden noises can make you tense just slightly and screw up, whereas more powerful moves while already physically active are less affected by this.

It’s like if I were trying to make a house of cards it’s quite off-putting to have someone yell out at just the wrong time. Meanwhile if I’m running for a bus someone might shout my name several times without me even realizing.


I think it’s actually even weirder than that. The quiet occurs even in amateur tournaments using the stepladder format , although the previous rounds may be just as noisy as the average league night.

It’s not the autowinders - it’s the mirror moving up and down. It doesn’t matter if the SLR is film or digital. Newer mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses don’t make this noise.

That’s a pretty good guess and I hadn’t thought of that.

I had assumed that sports with noise were played in venues that were starkly “home” or “away” and crowd noise was part of the home-field advantage.

Did you know there is a penalty in the NFL for excessive crowd noise? The home team either loses a time-out or is assessed a five-yard penalty. I’ve never seen it enforced and doubt it would be under normal circumstances.

Something similar got enforced at high school football games my senior year. The band actually had to start not playing when the ball was on the part of the field nearest us.

The rules always existed for basketball.

The Seahawks have been threatened with 15-yard noise penalties, but the NFL has never followed-through on them that I’m aware of. Apparently Centurylink Field is specifically designed to be the loudest stadium in the NFL.

I think there’s something else going on here.

Golf has always been an elitist sport, especially at the higher levels; if nothing else, the cost of a round at a nice course keeps us poor scum away. It is also an individual sport. So the lone pro golfer standing at the tee is definitely NOT a member of the proletariat (he even has a servant to carry his bag and lick his balls clean). We all go silent when he prepares to hit the ball, therefore, not because he needs absolute quiet, but because we need to show deference to one of our masters. :rolleyes:

How do I get one of these?

I think most athletes could perform equally well with total quiet, or constant noise. What is disturbing is quiet with sudden unexpected noise. Since both tennis and golf fans have no reason to make noise during the (sometimes very long) intervals between action, they are expected to continue the silence. I’m sure most gymnasts are used to lots of other noise in the gym and are used to tuning it out.

I can’t cite it but it seems that I’ve heard of such a penalty actually occurring, because the offense couldn’t hear the audibles.

The CFL has the same rule, and I can remember two occasions when it was used:

  1. BC Place - they had a decibel counter on the big screen, with a “make some noise!” logo, only during the away team having the ball. The BC Lions got dinged with a penalty one night.

  2. Taylor Field - the Riders Pep Band used to play from the stands when the away team was on offence. Since they were in the cheap seats in the endzone, it could be quite loud. Eventually the Riders got dinged.

Note that both of these were linked to specific actions by groups linked to the home team, not just general stadium noise.