Culture Crash 18-48: Watching Sports with a Second Screen

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture–what’s new and old in entertainment.

It used to be that when you were watching sports, you were only watching with the people in the same room as you. Maybe your family gathered around to watch Sunday Night Baseball, maybe you went to a friend’s Super Bowl party. Either way, you discussed the matchups amongst yourself, relying on the person next to you to pick up on any subtleties you missed.

Now, sports have become the gold-standard for entertainment that demands a second-screen. Watching a game is aided immensely by having your phone or a tablet at your fingertips. You can look up in-game stats, you can track scores of other games, or you can look through your Twitter timeline to share in the agony or ecstasy of your team’s failures and successes with a host of other fans and analysts in real time.

No longer do you have to sit at home and watch a game independently. Now, you’re at a bustling sports bar for every game, and the entire internet is sitting alongside you. The NBA Finals, World Series, and Super Bowl all completely take over the social media world, dominating the trending charts with hashtags and relevant players and coaches names. Within minutes of last year’s NBA Finals Game 1 ending, already the internet was full of memes making fun of the moment LeBron James yelled at JR Smith for not knowing the score in a crucial situation down the stretch.

It’s not all memes, though. The internet can also truly illuminate what’s happening on your TV screen. Have a question about a particular penalty or play? You can submit it to your local newspaper’s beat writer and occasionally get a response. Think Drew Brees looks slightly off in the third quarter? You can make that observation on Twitter and see if others agree or disagree with your assertion.

Management and coaching staffs have analytics guys crunching numbers to decide who starts and who sits. Now, us fans have social media, where we can parse through that same information to second-guess our teams every step of the way. Gone are the days when you have to watch a live event in the dark. Now, QB ratings, field goal percentages, and trade rumors are constantly just a click away, and as soon as the game your watching is over you can trust that social media has all the highlights you need to see from the other games you missed.  

I’m Evan Rook. 

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Culture Crash 18-37: Fall Sports

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture. What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

Fall is upon on. September is underway and with it comes the apex of the sports calendar. Last weekend, the NFL season kicked off and all month, the MLB’s pennant races and Wild Card hunts are shaking out. Then will come the MLB playoffs and the dawn of new seasons in both the NBA and NHL. Plenty of sports intrigue abounds this time of year- Four divisions in baseball are coming down to the wire, Jimmy Garoppolo has taken over at quarterback in San Francisco for a massive contract with very little in the way of experience, and you may have heard LeBron James is taking his talents to LA.

Those who don’t love sports may roll their eyes, but sports are one of our most inexhaustible sources of drama. An MLB pennant race or Playoff series can grow close and players will make or break their destinies–an error can doom a player to eternal shame. Just ask Bill Buckner. Or a clutch home run can cement your place in history. Just ask Kirk Gibson.

On the football side, The NFL will dominate TV ratings into February, even if they are falling year-to-year. Sunday Night Football truly is an event people gather to watch and over the next few months, controversial calls, big-time catches, and game-ending interceptions will dominate headlines on a Monday morning.

An essential ingredient in the drama of sports is just how elusive victory can be. Every season, only one team ends up champion. As a sports fan, you realize that more often than not, your team will lose- even for the frontrunners. But that glimmer of hope that this year could be the year keeps us fans hooked.

Personally, I’m hoping Kris Bryant can return to form after an injury-plagued 2018 campaign and Khalil Mack can be a difference maker for my Bears. Across the country, many others have wishes of their own. Autumn means plenty of things- pumpkin spiced lattes, apple-picking, and trick-or-treating- but as the days grow shorter and our sweatshirts get more and more use, many of us will also pass our evenings and weekends watching sports. Here’s to hoping this fall provides sports-lovers with a worthwhile ride.

I’m Evan Rook.