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How Technology Has Changed The Sports Fan Experience, Part Deux

This is part two in our three part, Samsung-sponsored series on how technology has changed the sports fan experience. Part one, which elucidated my personal fascination with sports viewing technology, is here.

Should I, for the second time in a day, blockquote from The Courting of Marcus Dupree? Yeah, I should.

In 1982, CBS and ABC were paying the NCAA and its member institutions $263,500,000 for television rights to college football for four years. Five more minutes of commercial time - from twenty-three minutes to twenty-eight - were allowed in each game. It had become apparent even to the most casual observer that television, with its stress on the values of show business, on the event...was a principal menace to college football. The arrogance of moving kickoffs to 11:30 A.M., of encourage night games in stadiums with their daytime tradition whose administrators found it appropriated to bring in portable lighting, of interrupting scoring drives with long official time-outs  for commercials would have been disquieting enough...[T]he great story in the seventies was more and more...the excess that television had wrought upon sports, of the assault upon civility and texture that the tube with its need for action and event demanded.

Technology is somewhat of a double-edged sword. One edge is sharp, razor sharp in fact, and that's the good edge. Overwhelmingly so, technology is a good thing. We live longer, happier, safer, and more interesting lives than we ever have due to the technological advancements mankind has made over the past several centuries. Everything from simple creature comforts (i.e., satellite television) to life-saving innovations (the cure for polio) make both boredom and old age regular parts of civilized humanity.

The other edge, though, is the sortof reliance we've developed on technology. How, in many cases, the residual effects of technology have more of an impact on something than previously anticipated. This is, of course, what drove the Amish insane enough to ride around in buggies. I'm not anti-development or anything, but I think it's fair to say that I'm willing to accept that, oftentimes, we rely too much on devices and the systems they create rather than the other way around.

Take for example what Morris spoke of listed above. Football has, in a way, been corrupted by television. Oh yeah, more people than ever can take in the game we all love, and instant replays have - for better or for worse, once again - become an integral part of the game's experience and strategy, but at what cost? Television controls football. The games appeal has gone from niche to nation-wide because of television. The tempo of the game is controlled by television. And an overwhelming majority of revenues come from television, not merchandise and ticketing, this point being the great catalyst in college football's evolution to an exciting club sport between rival colleges to, as mentioned earlier, the NFL's de facto minor league.

College football coaches have one goal: win. And, aside from simple competitive nature, this goal is in place to ensure the school makes significant enough revenue for the football team to be the university's cash cow. That means selling your conference's collective soul to ESPN, waiting until the week of the game to announce kickoff times as dictated by network officials, and buying the most entertaining players money can persuade.

So television has corrupted a once noble-ish amateur sport. Eh, I'm not too broken up over it, it's just an interesting observation that needs to be made. In the end, there's something for being able to sit inside of a heated building while eating a meal that game out of some sort of magical cooking contraption (fuckin' Crockpots, how do they work?!), drinking a beer that came out of an almost ice-cold refrigerator, and taking in Rebel football several time zones away from Oxford, Mississippi.