How the presence of Audiences can affect the performance and mental health of Players :
The presence of audiences affects a sport-playing person in massive ways. Not a single sportsman or anyone part of the sports industry can deny the fact that crowds affect the flow of a game in so many ways.
Here are some reasons why the presence of a crowd affects the gameplay of a player :
Social Facilitation :
Social facilitation is the term used when an individual has a different outcome when they work in the presence of more people compared to when they work individually.
Social Facilitation can be implemented in the sporting world as well because it is very often noticed that a player will try to put up a better performance when he has someone in the crowd holding a banner saying “you can do it”. This is psychologically explained as when someone is watching and supporting you particularly, a part of your brain associated with social awareness which controls your basic skills, improvises itself in its skill section. But this same social Facilitation can prove to be the exact thorn in the rose. If you try to impress particular people you would try and go for risky methods to maybe get a better score on the board. You can take cricket for example, when you try to impress someone you would try to hit a risky shot to get a possible 6, and then boom your out. So the thought of impressing someone can make them part of your brain trying to do anything to do that, thus it can prove dangerous for sports players. There is also a term named “social inhibition” this term is the complete opposite of social facilitation because it states that the presence of a large crowd watching a player, could make the player incredibly uncomfortable, and yet again if we take the example of cricket, a player could feel troubled due to the large number of people watching him and the expectations ahead of him, making him play a bad shot and invariably, get out.
Home games :
Quite often in the sporting world, you hear the terms “home game” or “home ground” or “home crowd”, these terms express the fact of familiarity and understanding of a particular condition. A home match will also mean that you play with a crowd supporting you, making you feel more comfortable. Feeling more comfortable and belonging will allow you to focus more on the game you’re playing, allowing a player to do better than normal.
The image above is a very good example of the point stated. It shows a full house, with crowds supporting the home team. With a bigger sense of acceptance, the player shown in the picture was able to go ahead and score a magnificent century. So this can prove the fact that a home crowd can allow the mental happiness and comfort of a player to be at a good high.
The unfortunate circumstance of distraction from a crowd :
This point goes against the presence of a crowd, This point states that a crowd can quite often prove to be a diversion to multiple players. We can take an example of cricket yet again, in Cricket, a crowd can be loving towards the team and a player, but a crowd may quite often cross the limits. With very attractive boards and constant chants, it can distract many players and they lose their focus on the game. By losing focus, of course, the player ends up performing badly. This point can be related to the point of “social inhibition” as a crowd can make a player uncomfortable thus, distracting them from the game they are playing.
Hostile crowds :
A home crowd is a beautiful bed of roses for one team, but for the other, it is a bed of thorns. A crowd can get hostile and aggressive against the visiting or away team. In football hostile crowds are abundant. Very often in sports crowds are often seen throwing water bottles and boxes onto the pitch. These crowds generally target one specific player. One example of this is an incident in the 2019 cricket world cup when a crowd of Indian fans booed Steven Smith, an Australian cricketer. The sad part about the incident was that he alone was targeted. This could degenerate the mental health of a player. When you are picked out and particularly attacked, the increased pressure will negatively affect the player.
A crowd may be a golden gem to find, however when that golden gem is sharp enough, it can cut you. The presence of an audience can affect a player positively or negatively. It is important to remember that a crowd is a double-edged sword, they’re unpredictable but at the same time, if used right, they’re beneficial.