There are certain things that make technology great. As a sports fan, I can watch my beloved Oakland Athletics on my smart phone from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
I can track scores and stats for all my favorite sports and players with a few clicks and swipes. Smart phones and touch screens have made the sports world smaller, and I appreciate that.
Unfortunately, there is always a downside to a perceived good thing. It’s becoming more and more apparent as I watch sports that more fans would rather sit in their seats and record the action on their phones than take in the moment.
Go back to any major sport and rewatch the broadcast. You’ll see thousands of fans who probably paid really good money for their seats spending more time recording the moment than living in it. It’s like they don’t realize it’s already being recorded and chopped up by the networks into 30-second memorable clips.
Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cups, the list goes on. While some of the biggest prizes in sports are being fought for, someone in the stands is recording it on their phone, missing the entire purpose of being there live.
I’m sure someday, someone much smarter than I will figure out this new desire to remember via technology. Until then I’ll have to wonder why a reasonable person sacrifices the experience for a video clip.
Amazingly enough, fans existed for years without the aid of personal electronic devices. I remember my first pro football game, walking into Anaheim Stadium with my dad, climbing the steps and seeing an NFL field prior to HD TV. I’ve never seen anything so green. I remember that color to this day, and I didn’t have an iPhone to record it.
I remember the last out of the strike-shortened 1994 baseball season. I sat in the outfield in Oakland with my brother as the A’s and Mariners finished the last game of that schedule before the strike ended the season. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a grand slam on Tom Candelaria that night, I didn't have the ability to record yet, but I didn’t need to. I can still feel the disappointment as a baseball season ended in August and not in October.
I remember the 1998 NLCS, sitting in the upper deck of Qualcomm Stadium as 65,000 people made the most deafening noise ever for their suddenly relevant San Diego Padres. It is a noise that still rings in my ears. This was prior to Beats by Dre headphones and Bose mics in smart devices to help me “remember” the moment.
Memories created at ballparks and stadiums are not meant to be captured on a 5-inch screen. They’re meant to be experienced, to be smelled, tasted, felt. Last I checked my device can’t replicate the breath being taken out of you, the pounding in your chest, the ringing in your ears.
Using a smartphone to record a T-ball game is one thing, but having your face stuck in a screen while history unfolds is simply missing the point. There’s a reason our brains don’t have a data limit and our memory isn’t measured in gigabytes. We were built to live on experiences, not social media clips and a phone full of “memories” that we don’t actually remember.
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 email@example.com. The opinions expressed are his own.