Dear Ms. Smartphone: I am invited to a Super Bowl party at a private club in Los Angeles and it should be a fun time. But I am wondering about the invitation. My friend says that I will need to leave my phone in a Yondr bag they provide, and the club will return my phone after the game. They call it a NoPhone Zone Party. I don’t see why they are making me do this! I always use my phone when I watch games on TV! Sean, Camarillo
Dear Sean: It sounds like you are going to be close to the action! For readers who don’t know: it’s the Rams vs. the Bengals, and a Yondr pouch “locks up” your phone when you enter a phone-free zone, like the party you were invited to. When guests arrive at the venue, phones and smart watches are placed in these proprietary, zipped pouches. As you exit, there’s staff with a tap reader to unlock the case. That’s the essence of a NoPhone Zone Party.
The interesting question is why this club is enforcing a no-phone zone during the game. If they were part of the old Nielsen ratings, I would say it would be to get your undivided attention for those million dollar ++ ads or the half-time show. Today, I surmise it’s to get your focus in a more mindful and immediate manner.
Most likely the hosts want their guests to have personal interactions, not distant ones. Like you, many people watch television with a phone in hand- especially during sports. They talk aloud or send out pictures, text, and email. A Nielsen poll from 2019 says that 73 percent of US adults use a digital device at least occasionally while watching TV, and 45 percent of those respondents do so “very often” or “always.”
But, it’s not just about social media. The same poll says people use their phone while watching TV to look up information related to the content. In this case, what are the favored odds in this game and how are they updating?!
Betting on you and Them!
And that brings up another reason why phones might be barred from the Super Bowl event you are attending. Mobile betting is growing exponentially. Last month, New York State launched it and within four days the sites handled $603.1 million! (albeit, the Buffalo Bills were in the playoffs). It was convenient- no traveling to New Jersey or a casino to place the wager anymore.
It’s likely that your LA event planners are trying to keep you engaged in their space- talking and interacting person-to-person, while you watch the big screen game. Perhaps it’s the first time since Covid restrictions began and they want to normalize relationships. Or, more speculatively, they have their own planning for a blow-out half-time show!
It’s been a while, but removing the phone is going to change the dynamics of this party. Instead of interacting outside the room, you will have to intermingle within the room and have a shared group experience. That’s a throwback!
It’s A THROWBACK!
Speaking of throwback, a few days prior to SuperBowl XIV, the LA Rams General Manager commented that defensive end Jack Youngblood was a “throwback” because like other legendary players, he played through injuries and pain. More commonly, today throwback refers to wearing a jersey from a past year or era of your team.
Who knows, perhaps that Yondr bag will be the throwback to Super Bowl LVI!