Why Won't People Sit Down?

Why has the urge to stand at concerts and sporting events become so contagious?

Posted Jun 01, 2018

I’ll start by saying I enjoyed myself at the recent Pink concert in May in Denver. She’s a terrific talent and her combination of high-wire flying — literally soaring over the crowd at the Pepsi Center, upside down, in a cool sparkly silver suit — all the while singing, is unmatched by many other performers. It was like a mixture of music, dancing, and Cirque du Soleil.

We paid more than a few bucks for the tickets — $600 for two — and the seats were in a great location, facing the stage, in the rear row of the first tier, just above the ground floor. All good so far.

The opening act was a DJ mixer guy named @KidCutUp, and he played a fun selection of 80s and 90s tunes that the mostly older crowd (my age down to late 30s) seemed to really enjoy.

The problem came as soon as Pink hit the stage and the people all around us stood up. Not having been to a big show for a few years, I stupidly assumed the crowd standing around us in their seats would sit down after her first song, or at least by the second. No. They stood for the entire two-hour show. Not having legs of steel and possessing a bad back and a hip that will soon need replacement, at some point I had to sit. That meant I watched the majority of her otherwise fine show looking between two people as they stood and swayed back in forth in front of me.

I tried to be patient, and I certainly didn’t want to make a scene, and I didn’t. But, the tickets were expensive and I wanted to see the concert from my seat, along with the other 20,000 people there. But most of them — at least in my section — chose to stand and that made me have to get up a lot, just to watch what was otherwise a great show.

Contrast that concert to us seeing Elton John in Las Vegas three years ago. He was performing at the Colosseum Theater inside Caesars Palace. The show was rocking good fun, as he played all his hits. The biggest difference, of course, is everyone in the area stayed in their seats, making it possible for everyone to see the show equally.

I can put up with people loudly singing along (usually pretty badly) and dancing to the music (usually a little better than they sing). I don’t even mind it when they take videos with their cell phones. (I’m comforted in the knowledge that they will come out grainy, with horrible audio, and garner 11 views when they post them on YouTube.) It’s even kind of cool when people turn on the flashlight function on their phones and wave them around, like we did with cigarette lighters back when I was watching Billy Joel, the Cars, Huey Lewis, and Steely Dan.

Same problem, different place: my attendance a few years ago at an NFL game between the visiting Detroit Lions and the then-still-in-San-Diego Chargers. Same expensive tickets and same problem as with the Pink concert: everyone stood the entire game. I get it when people stand for the kickoffs and after an exciting play or certainly when your team scores in football, hits a dinger in baseball, slams it home in basketball, or puts the biscuit in the basket in hockey or soccer. Please stand and scream your lungs out when it’s time to do so at the event; I do too. Sports and concerts are exciting and fun and a socially-connecting event among people who like the same things you do.

But — and here it’s always hard not to sound like Grandpa Albrecht from this point forward — can we agree as a civil society that standing for the entire show or game is something most people don’t like? They know they can’t ask the 150 people around them to sit down. Unless they’ve had a few beers, most people feel uncomfortable telling one person to sit down who stands in front of them (or keeps talking or texting at the movies; another place I rarely go. Don’t get me started on that.). As such, they either tough it out like I did (and complain later, on the trip home) or stand up too. Neither feels all that good, socially or physically.

I get why people stand when they are on the ground floor of a concert arena or at the lowest field-level rows at the football game; it’s so they can dance around, or see over the players’ heads, or approach the stage. That’s fine; I didn’t pay for those types of tickets because I know the drill there. But when I’m in a regular seating row with you, can we all stay seated until it’s time to get up and cheer and clap and yell, and then sit down again, so we can all see the same thing, together?

I’m guessing the short answer is no.

That’s’ probably why I’ve watched my last live NFL game and my last concert. Does this ring true for you? Does it bother you when people block your view the whole time? Or do you stand up at concerts and NFL games too?

Sitters of the World Unite! You have nothing to lose but your (probably pretty expensive) view of the stage or the field.

Dr. Steve Albrecht is the author of 18 books on business, security, and criminal justice topics. He can be reached on Twitter @DrSteveAlbrecht

Copyright Dr. Steve Albrecht

Pink flying high in Denver, May 2018.

Source: Copyright Dr. Steve Albrecht