I recently had the opportunity to compare Canadian fans’ energy to American’s, thanks to a recent visit to Nova Scotia for the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Integrative Energy Therapies – the “tapping” therapies. By chance, the conference was held across the street from the sports arena that was hosting the latest round of the Davis Cup tennis tournament – Canada vs. Chile.
I had some free time the day before my presentation on group energies, so I popped in to see if I could get some good photos to build into my PowerPoint. I only had 45’ or so of free time and I wasn’t going to spend $50 for a ticket, so I tried the direct route and explained my situation to the security guards at the entrance. My first attempt (at the General Admission gate) went nowhere – the two guards were 20-something young men enjoying their ability to tell a middle-aged American that “this is an international event, and all Press Passes have to be current and validated”.
But I went around the corner to the Media Station, where a 50-something woman asked if she could help. I explained that I wanted to take a few photos for my lecture tomorrow, and she said “Sure, come on in”. Must be that Wise Woman energy that the young bucks hadn’t learned about yet, and I was in.
The arena was mid-sized, maybe 10,000 capacity, and it was definitely not a full house that day. But the fan energy was there, and it was distinctly Canadian. The crowd was largely decked out in red shirts, and on one side of the court they were waving signs (some players’ photos, but only 2 or 3 Canadian flags), clanging cowbells, and thumping on a big marching band drum. They were pretty raucous between points, but as soon as the server got hold of the next ball, they instantly went silent, never once needing to be cautioned by the umpire. And there were no jeers at the opponent, or Canada-themed nationalistic cheers. It was enjoyment without an us-vs.-them vibe.
Contrast that with the recent Ryder Cup golf tournament in Minnesota, the United States versus Europe. This setup fosters a USA-vs.-the world tone, and it certainly played out that way at the end. I was watching on TV, and couldn’t help but notice all the “U-S-A!” chants when America’s victory was sealed.
The brother of one American golfer created a storm by tweeting his predictions about how uncouth American fans would be, and several fans lived down to those expectations by getting ejected for shouting to disrupt the backswings of the Euros. According to one British paper’s headline, “Ryder Cup frenzy leaves crowds in focus as golf faces price of popularity: American galleries were praised by Rory McIlroy after their Ryder Cup victory but he made it clear that a small minority of the crowd did cross the line”
So what does it mean? I think it means that some national stereotypes have an element of truth to them. Canadians tend to be more polite and respectful (though my opinion might change if I went to a hockey game!), while Americans still often have that “Ugly American” streak in them. But my guess is that the athletes from each country have adapted, or attuned themselves, to the quality of energy that their respective fans bring to the games. There’s no way of proving this, but I think they learn to take in the vibes from their own fans more completely than they would from any other fans, like at an away game.
It’s fun to speculate – if this sort of attunement process really happens, then it’s fair to ask whether there’s an ideal “frequency” of fan energy that best enables to players to ride into the Zone of peak performance. Maybe it’s the heartfelt appreciation taught by the HeartMath people, or maybe it’s the “Yankees suck!” vibe so beloved of Red Sox fans. I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting my money that mockery isn’t as powerful – during a ballgame or in any human interaction for that matter – as heart coherence. That’s exactly what our culture is in the process of finding out.