This post is part of a series sponsored by Samsung detailing the evolution of technology and sports. The title of this post is an homage to our current website tagline (see above). The first? Some things will never be replaced by technology.
I'm cheap. It's easier being cheap when you're a college student, true, but it's a part of who I am nonetheless.
I'm cheap enough that I have yet to willingly pay for cable TV, despite being 34 years old. When I went to college, cable was a part of the dorm package; when I moved into my first apartment, cable was a part of the rent. I don't count those. My second apartment, however, was cable-optional, whereupon I went out and bought a pair of $15 rabbit ears, extending my channel reach to the broadcast networks and giving me enough to catch basic news and sports. I really didn't have any interest in more TV; that was the late 90s and this whole 'internet' thing was taking over enough of my time.
Which takes us to today. By the time the federal government finally got around to letting old-school broadcasts die, broadband internet had already evolved to the point where it was better than the rabbit ears I had grown accustomed to. So nowadays, I get my feed via new media: usually a six-inch wide window on my ESPN3 player. It's been enough to watch a full day's worth of games, flip channels, and generally get as overloaded on Saturday football as I could with any game package on the old box. And while some people might think I'm cheaping out the system by watching on the same service I'd have for email, I couldn't disagree more. Internet technology is one of the best things to happen to expanding the market reach of sports.
ESPN3 alone gives me something like 30 games a weekend. CBS gives a few more - especially the high-end SEC contests of the weekend. Other channels like the Big Ten network deny me access, but that's fine; who watches Big Ten football anyhow? At any rate, I see any team I want to see. As a voter in the BlogPoll, I get a chance to review any game of interest and learn more about the teams I'm ranking. Heck, I can go back and instantly replay a game, skipping to plays of interest - even if I had no inkling to watch/record the game ahead of time. This whole 'internet' thing has made me a more informed, more well-covered college football fan than any TV-watcher could possibly have been a mere 10 years ago.
To be perfectly honest, the internet has made be a more reliable ranker of teams than the coaches, who have to focus all day on their own team.
I referred to this as the 'third-best way' to watch, but it's not so much that I'm using my laptop (vice a television) as it is the ability to tailor the programming to my own interests. The same is available on TV now, only with much bigger screens and better resolution (hey, you still get what you pay for; I just pay for less). We're all integrated so heavily into the variety show that we'd probably go crazy if we were to, for just one week, shut off the 'net and watch TV as if it were 1995 - two or three games on at a time at most, and only really understanding about three or four games in a given day.
And though we've been in a bit of a lull in terms of TV-like advancement in the last few years, I think there is a lot more just around the corner. The 3-D TV dream (where 3-D is the norm rather than the exception) will eventually happen; there's just too much projected revenue for it to not happen. And someday, someone will finally wake up and make the advancement that may yet get me back to television: a non-rectangular screen. Think about it; with just a simple little added bubble to the top or the bottom of your TV screen, you could move all the digitally-added content off the screen (score, time remaining, NCAA-wide score ticker, etc.), allowing you to see an uninterrupted view of all that the camera is trying to give you.
Or maybe, maybe the broadcasters will realize that TV resolution and screen size are now at the point that they can zoom out and let you see the secondary before the snap, as well as the routes that receivers run downfield. Rather than being forced to only watch the quarterback in the pocket on every single play, we could take in the entire scene as it unfolds, allowing us to better appreciate the schemes and even teach new football fans how the plays are intended to operate.
With 3-D, a clear screen, a full view, and today's unbelievable sound systems, the third-best way to watch a game may yet rival the first-best way. Even Orange Nation would agree that there's no reason to leave the game when you already have your fridge at hand.