DMCA2022: Kerrison: Anticipatory responses by sports crowds

At the online Digital Meeting for Conversation Analysis, Oct. 31st-Nov. 4th 2022, Kerrison presented on “Anticipatory responses by sports crowds”


Crowd noise in sport is typically associated with loud and dramatic responses to consequential in-game events: a goal in the final moments, an egregious foul by an opponent, the final whistle that confirms a victory. While these are immediately recognizable, the far more common sound filling arenas is a combination of “oo”s, “ohh”s, and clapping oriented to shifts in player movement. Rather than only reacting when something “happens”, sports crowds also audibly and visibly react to the development-of and loss-of contexts needed for scoring plays to potentially occur.

The cheering for an ice hockey goal can thus begin on the other end of the ice rink with the home team gaining possession of the puck. The sound may build as the players skate around defenders and complete passes to advance toward the opponents’ goal. Perhaps this sequence will culminate in a score and the sort of celebrations usually associated with cheering, or be doomed to fizzle out to disappointed “aww”s as a defender steals the puck and ends the attack. This presentation will explore the orientation of sports crowds to these shifts in the movement and position of play, and how this expertise at spectating is displayed through anticipatory cheering.

An existing corpus was used, consisting of audio/video recordings of student fans at 4 intercollegiate ice hockey games in the northeastern United States. These recordings include close-up footage of the fans’ interactions in the stands synchronized with wide-angle footage of the on-ice gameplay, providing simultaneous looks at instances of cheering by fans and the current in-game actions by players. This allowed for an analysis that focused on preliminary aspects of scoring opportunities – changes in possession, gains in territory, completed passes – along with more iconic instances of cheering around the outcome of attacks, such as traditional goal celebrations. What emerges is a better understanding of the moment-by-moment orientations that constitute the active, accountable “watching” of one’s team. With this anticipatory cheering being is a vital component of the performance of sports cheering, along with more traditionally investigated taunts and celebrations.

%d bloggers like this: