One of the greatest attributes of sport worldwide is the interaction of the crowd with the competitor. Watch the crowd when Lebron comes down the court and slams the ball. Watch the crowd when Miguel Cabrera sends a fastball over the left field wall. Watch the crowd even when Tiger hits a long putt to save par. In all these scenarios the crowd goes absolutely nuts.
Now go to a local weightlifting meet or better yet go to the National Championships. What did the crowd do when Travis Cooper went 6 for 6 and smoked his last CJ? What did the crowd do when Geralee Vega showed up and broke the 63kg American record for CJ and Total? What did the crowd do when Morghan King came out of relative nowhere to win gold and make a World team at her first Nationals. They golf-clapped…at best.
I don’t know why in our sport this phenomenon exists but lifters are frowned upon for showing emotion and spectators are afraid to get involved in the competition. I don’t know why in a sport where men are putting 400+ pounds over their head we decide the appropriate response is a simple, brief clap. Something has to change. Emotion, excitement, and crowd interaction is part of sports. Lifters, don’t be afraid to get excited. When you PR, when you make a lift, show that excitement. It’s worth getting excited about. Jon North has most recently revolutionized this part of the sport. Spectators, when a lifter wrecks shop and does something awesome. Let them know it!
If we want our sport to become more exciting and want the sport to become a spectator sport where the spectators actually enjoy watching then this has to change. I love college football because I yell at the TV from my couch and if I’m in Sanford stadium I’m more maniacal than anything else. This is the essence of sport. When competitors perform feats that seem impossible and the crowd recognizes that and gives them their due.
Why is this absent in US Weightlifting?
Watch this session from the 2008 Beijing 105+ Lifting Session. I have never seen a big man that excited before in my life. He leaps around the platform like a 5 yr old at Christmas. Now that is emotion!