Part of the draw of this year's 28th SEA Games is the potent use of entertainment elements in Sport Presentation, making athletes feel like rock stars and raising the entertainment factor for spectators. Photo: BP Chua/SINGSOC
Pulsating lights flashed in the darkened arena, interspersed with dynamic graphics on the screen and the occasional display of pyrotechnics. There were spotlights too, swinging about and landing on the stars of the day as the announcer boomed out spirited introductions.
A scene out of a rock concert? Not really.
It was a basketball match at the 28th SEA Games. However, you would be forgiven for thinking so, as Mark Richmond and his Sport Presentation team at SINGSOC have intentionally styled this year’s Games in such a manner, presenting the athletes to the crowd as “rock stars”.
Explaining the fundamentals, Richmond, the head of Sport Presentation, shared: “In the most basic terms, sports presentation is just your announcements, and whatever accompaniment that comes [with it]. More importantly, it is an education for the crowd: who’s competing in what events; and also to let the audience know what the sport is all about, when to cheer, and when not to.”
“For some venues, especially, at this SEA Games, we decided to take sports presentation to another level altogether,” he continued.
With dramatic music, elaborate lighting, and even mobile (some revolving, others rising) platforms, particularly at indoor competitions such as the table tennis, netball, swimming, and boxing, the fans at this year’s SEA Games were treated to a completely enthralling experience that meshed entertainment and sports.
Mark Richmond and his Sport Presentation team at SINGSOC have spared no effort to ensure that spectators and athletes will be wowed by the spectacle with the unique presentation of sports at the 28th SEA Games. Photo: SINGSOC
Particularly impressed with the athletes’ entrances at the boxing events was Thai fan Jade Vichyanond, who likened our regional Games to “professional boxing matches”.
“I think the entrance makes it very dramatic,” he praised.
“It ‘psych-s’ me up; I like the music in between rounds, although it’s a little loud sometimes. But generally, it’s very good.”
Yet, Richmond would have you know that professional competitions were not exactly what he had in mind. Revealing the creative process behind such magnificent spectacles, he said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to go around the world to see all these other events. Because of that, I’ve seen what they have done and, from there, I learn what not to do. We try to make it as original as possible.”
“Definitely, at the last Asian Games, it wasn’t like this. For some events at the Olympics, it was like this, but there are a lot of things that haven’t been done in the world.”
The use of revolving doors at the OCBC Aquatic Centre and the projection of athlete profiles and country flags being projected on LED screens has been one of the innovations of Sport Presentation at the 28th SEA Games. Photo: BP Chua/SINGSOC
Keeping the athletes’ hard work in mind, Richmond enthused that they had motivated his efforts. Having trained for so long just for the Games, he felt that bringing them out in style was “the least that we [could] do as a country”.
“For swimming, the priceless thing was that the first swimmer turned, in the first race of the whole SEA Games, and he went, ‘wow’. For me, that ‘wow’ thing is something that said that the one year of dreaming this up and trying to conceptualise it…That was all worth it,” he added.
The athletes themselves are certainly appreciative of his efforts. As Team Singapore netball player Charmaine Soh put it: “I felt that it was very grand. The atmosphere was very good!”
In fact, Soh also shared that her friends sitting in the stands had enjoyed the entertainment elements at the match, telling her that the introduction segment was “one of the best openings that they had ever seen.”
Laser light shows and darkened rooms have gone through a creative thought process and adds to the dramatic effect in which the competition has been presented to the audience. Photo: BP Chua/SINGSOC
Indeed, Richmond summed it up: “If you introduce the athlete like a rock star, the spectators react to a rock star. And when they react to a rock star, the energy just builds.”
After all, what’s a grand spectacle like the SEA Games without a little bit of a party? Richmond has multi-hued lights and upbeat tracks reserved just for the post-competition celebration as well.
“Whether Singapore wins gold, or whether another country wins gold, they’re there to have a good time,” he expressed.