Sports

Grip on Sports: Technologies change, but fans remain the same

A U.S. soccer fan pretends that Uruguay’s soccer striker Luis Suarez is biting him as he takes a selfie next to an Adidas advertisement featuring Suarez near Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last Thursday. (Associated Press)
A U.S. soccer fan pretends that Uruguay’s soccer striker Luis Suarez is biting him as he takes a selfie next to an Adidas advertisement featuring Suarez near Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro last Thursday. (Associated Press)

Thursday: Believe it or not kids, there was once a time when streaming video did not exist. We had a thing you might call streaming audio. We called it a transistor radio.

Was there any child of the ’60s that didn’t have a cigarette-pack-sized transistor radio somewhere in their vicinity for the World Series?

It seemed as if every elementary school classroom had at least one guy in the back with an earpiece wire running up the back of his shirt, his hand strategically placed over his ear as he listened to the static-infused broadcast of a Dodger-White Sox or Cardinal-Tiger World Series game. The listener would then write down the score on a torn piece of notebook paper and pass it along. “Dodgers 1-0, Koufax 7 Ks” it might read.

It was our prehistoric form of social media. A simpler time, maybe, but the precursor to today, when ESPN expects to have millions and millions of soccer fans around the nation glued to their smart phones, tablets or computers watching the U.S. face Germany in a key World Cup match. You just might see the same hunched-over sitting position displayed back in 1964 classrooms repeated in cubicles all over America today.

There will be a couple differences, of course. There are the two great-sounding earpieces on headphones today, instead of the single, less-than-clear one of yesteryear. And the eyes will be down, glued to the screen, instead of up, watching without comprehension what Sister Cletus – yes, I had a Sister Cletus at St. Rita’s Elementary – was writing on the board.

But the goal is the same.

To follow a sporting event when obligations don’t allow you to be home in front of your TV.

Of course, there was the occasional elementary school teacher – Sister Patrice comes to mind – that understood the importance of keeping up with the national pastime. They would either commandeer the radio, put it on their desk and let everyone listen or they would turn a blind eye to the activity back by the pencil sharpener.

Either way, we could follow the game. And I’m sure there will be bosses today who will allow the office TV to be tuned into the match, despite their inability to grasp why a soccer game would be so important to their workers.

Either that or they will have to deal with a bunch of folks suffering back problems tomorrow after spending today hunched over in a futile attempt to hide their iPhone.



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