Why We Watch
Why We Watch
Blog: From the Director
Posted Friday, May 5, 2017

It’s because we don’t know the outcome that we watch competitive sports.

If we know in advance who will win, we are much less inclined to watch.

This explains why television viewer ratings for live sports events are many times greater than for tape-delayed broadcasts and reruns of the same event.

It helps explain why onsite attendance for the Quarterfinals of the MHSAA Team Wrestling Tournament declined after seeding began. Pairing the No. 1 seed against the No. 8 seed, and No. 2 vs. No. 7, had predictable results and didn’t draw as much interest as in previous years, before seeding.

It is not automatic that seeding MHSAA tournaments will increase tournament attendance. Random pairings is a fair system, and random results an exciting experience.

Loss of random results is what worries U.S. professional sports leagues and united them against legalized sports betting. It is why sports organizations have tried to restrain the use of performance enhancing drugs – we don’t want PEDs to predict results.

The lure of participation for adolescents is that competitive school sports is difficult fun. The attraction for spectators is that the results aren’t known in advance. It’s what puts us on the edge of our seats, holding our breath, biting our nails.


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