Sociological View Of Madison Square Garden
While attending a New York Knicks basketball game, at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, I noticed that the fans watching the game in the arena were dominantly white upper-middle class males. I also noticed that the people in the arena were sitting in order based on their class and income. Generally, upper class, high income people, sat in the lower front seats closest to the center court while lower class, low income people, sat in the seats at the top closest to ceiling, commonly termed the “nose-bleed” seats. Even though there was a seating order based on income and a dominant white population attending the game, there was still a great diversity among the fans in the arena. Not only in class, but also in race, age, gender and fashion style. The high income fans generally whore regular clothes will the middle class fans whore jerseys, hats and other team apparel. Despite the diversity in the fans, there was still a common factor amongst them. That common factor is that all the fans sitting in the seats behaved like a crowd. Before, during and after the game, everyone had the same behaviors and reactions to what was happening on the court and in the arena. The people came together and showed a collective behavior and they tended to have a mental unity or a “group mind”.
During the basketball game I noticed that the dominant population were White middle class males which were about half of the people in the arena. Most upper middle class people were sitting in the two lower levels and in the forth level, which are the luxury suites. Throughout the arena are a lot of white middle class males and some white lower class males. Almost all white males are sitting in the first four levels. The reason why white males are most common is because they tend to have a higher income level which enables them to purchase high priced basketball tickets. The reason why males in general are dominant at this venue is because it is a male sport and because men are normally more into sporting events than women.
Throughout the arena, there tended to be a separation based on class and income level. In Level 1, which is the level closest to the court, people were upper-middle class. Sitting in the front seats of Level 1 were generally upper class people. In Level 2, most people were upper-middle class and middle class. In Level 3, most people were middle class and a few were lower middle class. In Level 4, which is where the luxury suites are, all of the people were either upper class or upper-middle class. And finally, in Level 5 a few people were middle class while the rest were lower-middle class. The reason for this separation in classes throughout the arena is caused by the prices of tickets and the income levels of the fans. On level 1, tickets typically go from 200 dollars up to 4,000 dollars. Generally, only upper class and upper-middle would be willing to pay such prices for a single ticket. The tickets get cheaper as the further up you go. In the “nose bleeds” or the fifth level, tickets range from 45 dollars to as low as 10 dollars depending on the section and row.
Even though white males were dominant in the arena, there was still a lot of diversity in race, gender, and age. In the first two levels, almost everyone was white, but there were some children and women. The third level was the most diverse. There were people of almost every race and there were a lot of children and senior citizens. There were even a lot of women. In Level 4, it was mainly middle age business men and was little to no diversity. In Level 5, there was a great deal of minorities. African Americans, or blacks, were dominant in this level and there were some children but not as much as Level 3. The reason why White males were so dominant in the first two levels is because of their increased income levels which enabled them to spend more money on tickets. The Level 3 was very diverse because most people who attended this game were middle class and because tickets at this level were at a modest price, more people were able to bring the children. Level 3 also had the most vendors in order to keep all the children happy during the game. Level 5 had diversity only among minorities and other low income people. There were very few white people at this level. The dominant race was Black because most Black people at this venue probably could not afford to purchase better tickets.
Throughout the arena, I noticed a distinct pattern within the crowd. Generally, upper class and upper-middle class people did not wear jerseys or any time apparel. About half of the middle class people were wearing some type of team apparel or team colors. The lower middle class people sitting at Level 5 had the most team apparel and most people were wearing a jersey. For some reason, the lower the income, the more team apparel a person had. On the other hand, the upper class people were wearing fancy suits. One reason why the upper class people whore suits is because they wanted to keep their professionalism. The lower class people had a tendency to wear team apparel because it has become a sub-culture for them and they probably wear jerseys and other team clothes outside of the arena as well. Another reason why low income people were jerseys is because they idolize the players and they want to dress like them to feel special.
Despite all of the diversity and differences among high income and low income people, there is still on major common factor. That factor is that all the people in the arena behave like a crowd. For example, when the home team scores, everyone cheers and applauds for them. But when the opposing team scores, everyone shouts and boos. The fans are likely to have a collective behavior or a mental unity. Gustave LeBon would call it a “group mind.” Another example of crowd behavior is that the fans are very emotional. The fans will be very happy, loud and excited when the home team is winning, but when they are losing, some fans will become nervous, some will shout things and others will even cry.
Often during the game, the fans will begin Scapegoating. Scapegoating is the act in which a group collectively finds someone to blame for problems they have not caused. One example is when the home team is losing; the fans will look for a fan of the opposing team to blame. The fans will then yell and harass this person until the home team is winning again or until the fan decides to leave the game or sit somewhere else. In some occasions, the fans will scapegoat a player from the opposing team or a referee on the court. This is demonstrated by various boos and some inappropriate gestures. When this occurs some fans may be removed from the game or they may be warned to refrain from inappropriate gestures. One example of collective behavior is in the ways some of the fans dress. Fans will normally purchase team apparel and wear clothes with colors similar to that of the home team. Some people, mainly children, will paint their faces and others will purchase extra large fingers that look like the number one.
Once again, even though there were many differences and a large diversity in the fans, there were still a lot of similarities like crowd behavior, Scapegoating and collective behavior. After completing this report, I realized that even though most of the professional athletes at this venue were African American, a majority of the fans attending were white males. Also, that most children were sitting in the third level because it was the biggest level and it had the best prices for a middle class parent.