Technology enhances sports, unless youre dumb like me
- Matthew Sherman
- West Linn Tidings - Sports
I recently sat down to watch the quarterfinal match of the Women's World Cup between the United States and Brazil and, had everything gone right, it probably would have been one of the more exhilarating highlights in my history as a sports fan.
I can think of few athletic performances more dramatic in my lifetime than a national team scoring a fantastic goal in the final seconds on the world's biggest stage against a talented squad that, for the previous 20 minutes, had been painting a flawless portrait of everything that is wrong with international soccer.
Unfortunately for me, everything didn't go right.
The morning got off to an inauspicious start as I first forgot what time the game was on and, by the time I remembered, it was 15 minutes into the contest and the United States was already on the board.
You see, mishaps with recording things off of television runs in my family. I like to think that, growing up, the Sherman household possessed the world's finest collection of poor-quality movie recordings on VHS ever amassed.
We had bookshelves of labeled black cassettes showcasing the finest cinema that the 80s had to offer. Come over to our house and just one tape could offer you a fantastic triple feature of 'Crocodile Dundee', 'Short Circuit' and 'Innerspace'.
It was routine for my mother to record "Wonderful World of Disney" movies on Sunday nights and Mondays were spent with giddy anticipation of watching that week's movie in the evening.
But occasionally that excitement morphed quickly into devastation when, after hitting Play, the TV displayed nothing but static or, perhaps, a rerun of 'Murder She Wrote' as the wrong channel had been recorded.
So I'd like to think my gaffes are genetic to take some of the onus off of myself.
I was still looking forward to the remainder of the soccer game and even remembered to add on an additional 30 minutes of recording time in case the game went to overtime.
My family and I returned from church and I flicked on the TV to raucous cheering and celebrating. I had made another rookie mistake of turning the television on while the game was still in progress and while I frantically loaded up my DVR to play the recording from the beginning, I knew I had already ruined a substantial portion of my experience since something clearly dramatic happened near the end of the contest in favor of the Americans.
Still I soldiered on, determined to still enjoy the event. Shortly before the end of the first half, I strolled over to the computer.
As a product of my generation, my attention span has been ravaged and I routinely yield to my urge to multi-task at all times, reading blogs or keeping tabs on a baseball game on-line with the television on as well.
It is a problem that is routinely met with an exasperated "Why can't you just watch a movie like a normal person?" from my wife.
On this day, I made yet another rookie mistake, haphazardly and instinctively logging onto Facebook. Before I could even process the error of my ways, I was met with a dozen status updates from friends varying from "Penalty kicks!" to "What an incredible game! USA!"
How could I have been so stupid?
In this advanced technological era, it has never been easier to record sports or shows for viewing at one's own leisure. But it has also become a double-edged sword because the same technological advances have also made it virtually impossible to avoid an outcome being spoiled or a plot twist being revealed through one medium or another.
As I routinely work in the evening during the week, I have repeatedly tried to record sporting events over the past few years and, with 90 percent regularity, it turns into nothing but an exercise in frustration.
I have virtually given up the practice of recording Trail Blazer games.
When we first set up our DVR, I recorded every game, loving the ability to fast forward through commercials and halftime.
But I quickly found out that, to fully enjoy this practice, I had to avoid answering my phone or checking text messages, visiting at least 10 websites that I frequently check and, occasionally, my own wife.
The latter of those three things was, obviously, the most problematic. Midway through the second quarter she would say something benign like "Oh, you're watching the Blazer game? Hmm."
And this would cause me to erupt irrationally.
"Wait, what did you mean by that? Why did you say it like that? You know what happens don't you? They lose, right? You don't want me to finish watching. Do they lose? Would you have said something if they lost?"
I turned into a more paranoid yet more hygienic version of Howard Hughes. It got to the point where I would announce that I was recording a game and try to ban my wife from checking her phone, Facebook or Twitter.
If I get divorced I will check "DVR" as the reason for dissolving the marriage.
And just so that I don't take the entirety of the blame for the DVR damaging our relationship, it should be known that, on the lone occasion I asked my wife to record a baseball game for me, she forgot, causing me to miss a no-hitter thrown by San Francisco Giants' pitcher Jonathan Sanchez.
I am a huge Giants fan and before last year, the last time the team made the playoffs, I didn't own a cell phone and Facebook had yet to be invented.
As it happened, the Giants' first playoff game against Atlanta took place at the same time as a Lake Oswego football game.
I sat in the press box with my phone turned off, knowing that, if I even received a text from my wife or a friend I would assuredly be able to read into what it means, thereby ruining my plans to watch the game later in the evening.
I was seated next to superintendent Bill Korach and his wife Rikki who, minutes into the game, flipped open her laptop and pulled up a running box score of the game as the Koraches are both Braves fans.
Last Sunday, I kept my resolve, falling to the temptation of fast forwarding through portions of the second half.
When Brazil scored early in overtime, I wasn't fazed. I knew the United States had responded and so, while the late goal was brilliant, it would have been much moreso had it come as a surprise.
To that point I had still managed to not ruin the outcome of the penalty kicks, knowing I could still hang my hat on something.
The teams picked their players and the theatrics were set when my DVR froze, having reached the end of the recording. I should have extended the added time by an hour instead of 30 minutes.
I give up.