Editor’s Note~ Thanks to F1B reader Paul K. for his latest thoughts on competition and entertainment in Formula One. F1B Marbles is a fan-generated Op Ed pisce that allows our F1B readers to sound off on their favorite sport.
COMPETITION = ENTERTAINMENT
This formula represents the ultimate goal of sports in its most purest form: The level of entertainment is directly proportional to the level of competition. When the competition is low, so is the level of entertainment. When it is high, entertainment is high. For example, if you were to go to a soccer match, you may see a goalie just barely block a well-struck ball and sail it clear out of the way. In this case, the competition was high, and the resulting action entertained the audience. Another example is a baseball game that’s at 1-0, or maybe 2-1. No action going on anywhere. The crowd is bored. It’s quiet enough to allow you to hear a pin drop. Action entertains the crowd. Without the action, there is no competition. Without competition, there is no entertainment. This has been true since Ancient Rome’s gladiatorial games.
Now, let’s take a look at artificiality. If taken in small, sporadic doses, usually dictated by tactical situations, the crowd could be entertained. If it overwhelms the competition, however, there is no entertainment, and the audience feels cheated out of something of value. An example could be the steroid and other issues of chemical/biological artificial enhancements in sports, be it American football, baseball, cycling, etc. The audience thrives on the competition, yet they feel insulted by too much artificiality. We can say, then, that the level of entertainment is inversely proportional to the level of artificiality, or
1 / ARTIFICIALITY = ENTERTAINMENT
ARTIFICIALITY * ENTERTAINMENT = 1
This, then, explains why many people who found Formula 1 entertaining start to complain when artificiality is introduced. Sure, it helps competition initially. However, when more artificiality is introduced, the amount of entertainment is reduced. It undermines and undercuts the purpose of the competition, and we are left lacking. There is a foul taste in our mouths. So, because of the artificiality and its result, we are left with this formula:
COMPETITION/ARTIFICIALITY = ENTERTAINMENT
That is the state of Formula 1. The competition was lacking, and, as a direct result, so was the entertainment. The FIA tried to introduce artificiality into the competition, but the artificiality overwhelmed the spectacle of the entertainment, leaving us all wanting and crying out for vengeance. How much artificiality can we really stand?
Is it the FIA’s fault that we are where we are? Only in part. Is it the driver’s fault? Again, only in part. What about the teams? Again, in part. What remains is that we, the fans, who craved competition, demanded that something be done to raise the level of entertainment. But the drivers can only do so much, and the fact that we seek drivers with monetary backing yet lacking in skill only exacerbated the problem. The only thing left for the FIA to try was artificiality. It might have worked at one time, but now the artificiality has overwhelmed the competitive nature of the sport. Even if it was true that the artificiality diluted the sport, we have only ourselves to blame because we asked for too much….
….because we are so easily jaded and bored.
We’re not a very intelligent species, are we.
Paul Keifer Jr.