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What are the similarities between movies, novels and sport?
The answer is they all entertain us through the same fundamental mechanism; An engaging narrative.
It goes something like this; You’re made familiar with the key protagonists who are then challenged by dramatic events. We root for them to see what we feel is justified success or failure, depending on whether or not we identify with their values and beliefs.
The uncertainty of their fate keeps us captivated. We feel compelled to see how they perform against the challenges they face. We are committed until the conclusion of the story and the outcome is revealed.
The key figures don’t have to be people. In sport you can include the teams who will have their own distinct personalities with which they are associated.
Sport’s popularity is built on the strength of connection with the protagonists and it’s unscripted nature with unpredictable plots that emerge as you watch. It is like no other form of entertainment.
Futsal’s Unique Selling Point
We’re most emotionally engaged around pivotal moments that could determine the outcome one way or the other. In futsal, this is principally through goalscoring opportunities.
Will the team convert the chance, or is a goal denied by a fingertip save?
Futsal’s competitive advantage over other sports is these dramatic moments are always just an instant away. Both the attacking and defending team are continously, at most, seconds away from scoring.
In other words, a potential dramatic plot twist is always just around the corner.
And these dramatic changes occur at the optimal frequency. Too few, and there is not enough to enjoy, but too many and they lose their impact.
Basketball has lots of point scoring but the relevance of any individual point is insignificant unless it’s the final quarter and the scores are close. A goal in football prompts an emotional reaction like no other sport but games can have very few of these moments of ecstasy (or disappointment), and sometimes none at all, leaving fans dissatisfied.
With the option to mount a comeback through the fly goalkeeper, the outcome of most futsal games remain in the balance until the final whistle.
You are served edge-of-your seat entertainment for the full 40 minutes.
And perfection is achieved with the electric speed in which all this action and drama develops, and the spectacular plays that leave you amazed at the capacity of the human species.
Drama With No Context
Futsal’s powerful stories are often impaired by a lack of preceding scene setting and context explanation, where the crucial emotional connection is made with the key characters.
A lack of knowledge of the protagonists (players and teams) results in no personal interest or stake in whether they succeed or fail against the challenges they encounter. It causes indifference rather than a need to know the outcome.
It’s like skipping immediately to a movie’s action scenes. The action is possibly still worth watching but not to the level if you had known why it matters.
We witnessed this effect recently in England with the women’s football world cup. Increased coverage of the tournament, driven partly by the movement for more gender equality, resulted in more awareness of the stories and backgrounds of the competing players and teams.
This created a connection that captured public interest and led to the semi-final being the country’s most watched TV programme of the year so far.
Futsal can experience an equally rapid rise by informing the audience effectively. Promoting the story is key to promoting the sport.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
I have no idea but I know that for a story to be heard, it needs a compelling storyteller.