New Media and Our Consumption of Sports

In previous posts, we've taken a look at the general evolution of how we watch and follow sports and used the magic DVR machine to go back and analyze a big gain in the Oklahoma State game.  Just today, we posted our first podcast on this site.  It's a brave new world at BOTC, only three years behind most of the other blogs.

That said, we haven't really talked much about how we actually view sports these days.  Of course, there's always the option of going to the game itself, assuming you live somewhat near the venue and can afford a ticket.  For decades, TV was the next best option, as you could at least see the action unfolding even if you weren't there.  That was limited, however, by whether the game was on, which was an issue when broadcasts were very limited back in the 1980s and 1990s.  I never would have imagined the day when 10 of K-State's 12 games would be on TV and every single basketball contest would be available, but here we are.  Assuming your school or team had a good radio broadcaster, listening on the radio could work.  The good radio guys from back in the day described the action so well a lot of people felt like they really were there.

One other aspect of how we view the actual games is the people with whom we watch them.  KSB touched on this in an excellent essay where he talked about listening to K-State games on the radio with his dad.  I can describe some of my best memories of games based more on who I enjoyed the game with, rather than the actual game action itself.  There was last year, when mystman995 came to Manhattan and we all met the Rock M crew before and after the game.  We could talk for hours about the weekend in Austin when K-State beat Texas in 2007.  Or maybe my sophomore year in college when a huge group of us got together at the house where four of my friends lived and watched the agonizing loss to Texas in Austin.  Perhaps it was the last-minute decision to go to Kansas City with my friend Dave that December and watch the Cats take on undefeated Oklahoma.  Maybe it was later that evening, when I saw the 65-year-old man next to me at the game hold back tears because he never thought he'd see the day when K-State would win a conference championship.

To be sure, all of those are great memories.  But technology has also enabled us to interact with so many people beyond our close circle of friends before, during and after games.  When I put together the open game threads, I submit them for distribution with a two-sentence description.  Often, I write something along the lines of "join the BOTC open thread.  It's like watching the game with all your friends and not having to clean up after them."  In a lot of ways, that's what the Internet has allowed us to do.  First there were message boards, which allowed essentially live discussion of the game, although in a somewhat choppy and stunted manner.  Instant messaging could be a way to discuss the game with someone who was somewhere else, assuming you both had a computer handy to your TV or radio.  

But blogs, especially blogs with live comment updating, have taken things to another level as far as in-game interaction.  We routinely have several hundred comments by dozens of contributors in the game threads now.  And with mobile devices, you can get the best of all worlds.  You can be at the game live, with the thousands of other fans, and still discuss the game with a relatively small group of (somewhat) like-minded people.  Or if you're stuck out of town on business while the game is on, you can feel a little more like you are still there.  Maybe you're an alum who has moved to a different part of the country.  Whatever the circumstances, you feel more like you're part of the community you've chosen when you watch the game.  As far as these things go, it's the best replacement for actually living near a bunch of other fans of the same team and having them over for the game.

And even better, you don't have to buy them all food and drinks.

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