As I watched SpaceShipTwo ascend into history from my office window in Tehachapi last week, I couldn’t help but get excited about space travel once again. I’ve always been geeked out about the concept, maybe because I grew up in the NASA shuttle program-era and every launch and landing was an event.
I couldn’t help but wonder whether my kids be as excited about those types of things when they’re my age. I mean Thursday’s launch was the perfect passing-of-the-torch moment. It was the first time a non-government supported agency took people into space, essentially paving the way for commercial space travel, which will be a tourism industry before we know it. In 30 years, it will probably be as common as getting on a normal airplane. My pal Bill Deaver in Mojave will probably argue a much shorter timeline, and believe me, he’s more of an expert than I will ever be on the subject.
As technology advances, in life, science and yes even in sports, what will the next generation get excited about when reality is at their fingertips? Talk to older sports fans and they’ll tell you about the first time they went to a live sporting event. Since many were limited to black and white television, it was the colors that made the experience memorable. I remember my first NFL football game; even watching on color TV didn’t do justice to just how green the grass was that Sunday in Anaheim in the early 1990s.
Today, sports are inundated with high-definition, 3D and 4K televisions that can spot a stitch misplaced on a uniform top. Some networks have already been toying with virtual reality camera angles and in-game immersion experiences from your home. Two seasons ago the Los Angeles Angels used three different channels to give you three different views, including one that was filmed from a seat on the first base line without announcers. Heck of a lot cheaper than going to the ballpark.
Like commercial space travel, I wouldn’t be surprised to see stadiums in the next 20 to 30 years woven with cameras from a variety of reality-based angles so the viewer at home can throw on one of those silly-looking VR headsets and watch the game. Hopefully they are equipped with a drunken-fan filter, so I don’t have to be exposed to the real-life downfall of stadium attendance, the fan who has more than their fair share of $14 beers. One can hope.
Excitement is born from emotion, and that remains untapped in a virtual reality world. I hope that continues in an era where records are broken, players are getting bigger, faster and more athletic than ever before and the options for sports entertainment are excessive. For many of us who grew up in a generation that didn’t have the internet at our fingertips, our competitions on our local fields in our Tehachapi uniforms were “the show” as far as we were concerned. Few worried about earning college scholarships or playing at the next level because for us, this was the next level and the pinnacle of a long career. That with time has changed.
When options abound, and information is surrounding us at a record pace, there’s got to be some sort of lifeline to that raw emotion, that sense of pride and the appreciation of accomplishment when we stare across a stadium field, an arena court, or a bright blue east Kern sky on a winter morning as someone does something we’ve never witnessed before.
The challenge for us all will be not allowing the wonders of technology, and they are wonderful, to replace those feelings, those emotions and those moments where we simply tip our cap to the unbelievable. Even with readily available information, it’s still OK to be dumbfounded and impressed from time to time.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.