Last week, deathlybeginnings wrote about how watching classic NBA games was dramatically different from watching NBA games today because of the lack of replays during every pause in the action and before and after every commercial break. Similarly, he mentioned that the experience of watching a sporting event at a stadium or arena is different from watching it on TV for the same reason. He wondered whether sports fans still enjoy the game or if, in this age of ongoing technological advancement, the representation of the game on a TV broadcast, replays and all, has replaced the pure joy of watching a game.
In my personal experience, nothing can ever truly replace the experience of going to a stadium or arena and watching a sporting event with 50,000 other fans rooting for the same team. As a baseball and hockey fan, I try to go to games whenever I get the opportunity, and I always look forward to the end of the semester because I have more time to go to and enjoy games with my friends. That said, technology still plays a huge role in my experience as a sports fan. When I go to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, for example, I can watch replays of important plays on the 59 x 101 foot center field scoreboard. This screen was the third-largest high definition scoreboard in the world when the stadium opened in 2009, and was a vast improvement on the scoreboard at the previous Yankee Stadium. Hockey and basketball fans, similarly, can enjoy replays on the huge screens that hang over the ice or court at Madison Square Garden or other venues. While these scoreboards are an important part of the stadium experience, however, they are not essential to enjoying games. In addition to the Yankees, I enjoy going to Trenton, NJ and watching the Trenton Thunder, a minor league affiliate of the Yankees, play there. Waterfront Park in Trenton doesn’t feature the same amenities that Yankee Stadium does, but it is still possible to watch and enjoy a baseball game there. For me, and for many people I know, the representation of the game has added to our experience, but it could never truly replace it.
Of course, there are other technologies that add to our experience as sports fans. Social media, in particular, has been hugely influential in the sports world over the last few years. This topic interests me so much that I am writing my final project for this course about it. Through a series of questions and answers with other sports fans and members of the media that covers the teams we love, I hope to illustrate the ways that technology and social media have changed the way we watch and follow sports in the twenty-first century.