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From Transistors to Mini-Laptops

In the past, I've written about how I remember listening to ball games (both football and basketball) with my dad on a transistor radio. We would take it with us to his work shed out on his boss's farm, and listen through the crackle of static, as Stan Weber ran for first downs, or Mitch Richmond drained jump shots. I think that the crackle of static is one reason I still enjoy listening to games on AM radio from time-to-time, no matter if the Cats are playing or not. Just that sound brings back memories of those days in the 1980s, when Dad and I would struggle to get the antenna situated just right, so that our reception for the game would be perfect.

How times change.

Now, it's no longer a matter of lugging your transistor to just the right spot in the work shed (or house, or apartment, or wherever you lugged it to back in the 80s), tweaking the antenna position to just the right place, and gently massaging the tuning knob, in an attempt to land at exactly the right spot on the dial. Instead, we simply have to figure out where the "stream" of the game is, if we want to listen to Wyatt and Stan's call of the game, or Google around a bit to find out what station might be carrying it on television, and if that station might also be streaming the television feed online (a la ESPN3, for example). Now, in lieu of watching small images, on my family's 17" color television (what can I say, we were poor), my brother and I watched the Wildcats decimate the Jaywaks 59-7 on his monstrous high-def widescreen television. It was a thing of beauty!

The technlogical advances, however, are not without their issues as well. Last week, for instance, many of us who were listening to the Cats game against Baylor had the audio stream cut off right as Carson Coffman was lofting a fourth-down pass with only about 30 seconds left in the game. It should be noted that that was something that never happened when listening on a transistor radio.

With that said, I don't consider myself a technophobe in any way. I love technology, and all that it has allowed us to do. As I'm now living in North Carolina, without the benefit of technology, I would never get to listen to Wyatt and Stan's call of the games, and would often be shut out of any television coverage as well.

As a former football coach, one thing I used to really enjoy doing was charting the plays, based upon the radio call of K-State games. Internet technology has made this unnecessary, as nearly every online box score also includes a "play-by-play" feature, from which one can get the same information that I so tirelessly recorded by hand back then.

It would be easy to develop "good old days syndrome" about the years before all these technological advances. But, if you asked my 12-year-old self back in 1986 whether he'd like to have a little computer that let him look up every possible stat about his beloved Wildcats, and offered him the chance to watch his Cats in high-def, widescreen glory, I know what his answer would be. Still, I can't help but be reminded of times that seem more pure in their technological simplicity, by all the exciting new technologies through which we experience the Cats in 2010.

This is the first in a series of posts sponsored by Samsung.