Has technology ruined the way we watch sports?

Before I hear everyone scream “No!” at the same time hear me out.  I realized we have come a far way since the first televised sporting event in 1939, where the Columbia Lions took on the Princeton Tigers. The black and white production was supported by only one camera with limited regional access as there where about 400 TV’s sold by this time.  Many things have changed.  In today’s sporting world we are all witnesses to technology resolution revolution. The High Definition TV projects an exponentially greater quality picture than black and white and even digital could ever imagine. With a plethora of cameras found at any sporting event, we can view a play from every angle. If we get up or get busy with something we can pause, rewind or thanks to Internet and a comprehensive 4G network we can bring the game with us. Just ask Sir Charles Barkley in his latest commercial promoting NCAA March Madness. You can virtually take the game anywhere you go.

With all these technological advances why would anyone want to go to a game?

Why should the average sports fan leave the comfort of their own couch to pay for tickets, deal with traffic, and eat expensive stadium food just to have an obstructed view in the nosebleeds? Then during the game we miss out on key moments because were distracted by the other 20,000 people watching the game, forcing us to have to see them on the next episode of SportsCenter.  Especially, since they have the necessary amenities and all-inclusive high definition view of the game.

Has technology ruined the way we watch sports? Technology has shaped our mindset that we demand and expect perfection. We expect to view the world in HD and we expect to be entertained for duration of the show. If a venue has failed to achieve this standard we become easily agitated at the little things. When a referee misses a call they become under intense scrutiny because instant replay. See the last moments of Seahawks and Packers game from the last NFL season. Technology has spoiled us and has taken away the purity of the game and the experience. 

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22 thoughts on “Has technology ruined the way we watch sports?

  1. I could not disagree more with this post. Yes technology has enhanced the way we watch sporting events on tv, but to say that it has ruined the purity of the game is false. Why would I pay for an overpriced seat in the nosebleeds and deal with traffic coming home? Because there is still a human element to going to a game that will never be taken away by high definition views. Sure you may get a better view of a walk off homerun in the bottom of the ninth from your couch, but you won’t feel the electricity of the stadium and the excitement of the crowd as complete strangers are united for that brief moment through a common bond. Technology has made things in this world obsolete, but there will always be people who prefer to go to games in person. Technology can drastically alter our lives, but their are human aspects such as emotions that will always remain with us.

  2. I’ve often had a similar thought. As you mentioned, technology is not only changing the way that we watch sports, but also alters the way that games are played. For instance, Olympic swimmers are crushing records because of faster pools, better swimsuits, and better training techniques. I want to first comment on the way technology affects the way sports are played because I think it is mostly beneficial. Athletes are stronger, faster, more skilled, and have a better understanding of how to play the game. I believe this makes for a more exciting show. Furthermore, referees are becoming more impartial with the use of instant replay.

    Furthermore, I think the way we watch sports is enhanced and not ruined. I enjoy seeing the incredible action from a variety of angles while sitting on my couch. I love seeing as the players see while also being able to watch the game develop from overhead cameras. I will continue to love to attend sporting events for the atmosphere (including the expensive stadium food), but am glad that I continually have a better experience while watching at home. Sports are made to entertain me, and I am being entertained.

  3. Technology has certainly changed the way in which we view sports, but to say it has “ruined” the way we watch sports is absurd. As times change, our technology must also adapt and be efficient to make our lives easier. Yes, I agree that watching the big game on a mobile phone, television, or computer screen is becoming a favorable method of seeing the game. This is extremely beneficial, however, because it provides a solution for people who are caught up or do not have enough money to attend the game (Yankee ticket and food prices are ridiculous!). The changing technology regarding sports watching is beneficial and strictly a positive in today’s world. People won’t ever miss out on their favorite team’s games and sports fans will continue to argue that regardless of advancing technology, nothing beats sitting in the crowd at a game enjoying the amazing atmosphere of the arena.

  4. I think that as a huge sports fan and diehard New York sports fan, there is nothing on the TV that compares to stepping into Madison Square Garden or Yankee Stadium and having those shivers run down your spine from the atmosphere. Technology may be altering the different sports with replays, better equipment, and huge camera crews, but the way that true sports fans watch the games is the same. I think that true sports fans will still attend the sporting events because of the atmosphere and getting to watch the game with thousands of other fans. I think that the updates in television simply allow big sports fans to follow their teams on the road and allow fans of teams that do not play near them to follow them.

  5. I tend to disagree with your position on this. Although I think there are perks to watching a game in the comfort of your house, as others have stated, there is nothing that compares to the energy you feel inside of a stadium. No matter how high-def tvs become, you will never be able to emulate the comradery you feel with all other fans when you are in a stadium or arena watching your favorite team play. Also, for those who do prefer watching the game on tv, technology has made watching sports much more enjoyable. As a huge sports fan, I personally love being able to watch the reply of a game changing play from every different angle and admire it. If you ever go to a grandparents home and have to watch football on a small tube tv, you’ll never want to go back to the pre high-def era.

  6. I have both disagreeing and agreeing views on this argument. Technology has made it much more convenient to watch sporting events from afar without having to deal with the trouble and expenses of game day. Technology has also allowed for slow motion replays so officials can review questionable calls and adjust the ruling accordingly to the dismay of the fans of the team not favored. But really, technology has made watching games so much easier and convenient. But I also agree with your opinion because I often find that when I go to baseball games I tend to find myself getting bored because I don’t have the jabber of the announcers to hold my interest. I know people that bring radios to games because they need the commentary. I feel that in this sense, although technology enhances game day, it also distracts from the game itself.

  7. Good post, particularly in that it takes strong stand (and invites people to argue with you). I actually think social media improves sports, because it gives you much greater insight into players thoughts and mindset than just the polished image you see on TV.

  8. I can see where your coming from, but I disagree that technology is ruining our sports watching experience. The ability to watch games on the go allows for fans to see their teams play even if they can’t be home in time for the game, and the ability to rewind and re-watch plays that just happened give the viewer greater control of their experience. I would, however, argue that technology, while it doesn’t ruin the viewers experience of the game, might be too involved in the games themselves. Human error on the part of the referee or umpire is as much a part of the game as fielding a ground ball or scoring a touchdown, and the threat that technology poses to take the human element away from refereeing could standardize the game to such a point that it would be ruined.

  9. I feel very conflicted about this topic. I love sports and I love the tradition involved in all aspects of sports. To some extent, technology has taken away from the game. Going to a stadium to watch a game amongst 20,000 people is all apart of the experience. Everyone remembers the first time they walked out of the tunnel and saw the green grass on the field as players warm up. Technology can never change that. However, it’s true that technology makes it less appealing to actually go to a stadium when you can watch the game from the comfort of your living room. Technology has also played a role in the whole concept of instant replay. In baseball for example, homeruns can be overturned based on the use of instant replay. As much as I want umpires and referees to get the calls right, human error is part of the game, and more importantly, its part of life. Regardless of whether or not we agree with the use of technology in sports, it’s definitely going to be used more and more and continue to have an impact on the game.

  10. This is a very interesting article and I can completely understand your point of view. Paying for the trip and making the travel does seem slightly less attractive now that we can just sit on our couch at home and watch the game. I could argue though that because watching footballs at home is now commonplace because of the ability to televise games in HD it makes it that much more special to actually go to a game. Back when the Columbia Lions played the Princeton Tigers the only way to watch the game was to go to the game which is then what people would do, go to the game. Now, going to the game seems to be that much more special because you feel the blood pumping through your veins in the stadium that you never would have felt had you stayed home and watched from your couch. I am very happy you brought this argument to light and you did a great job discussing the topic, but I think I might have to disagree with you that technology has taken away the purity of the game and the experience.

  11. I believe that technology has greatly changed the way we watch sports, but instead of ruining it, I believe it has enhanced it. Now you can watch any game you want, where you want. You can easily pull up player and team stats, and become much more involved with your teams than ever before. I believe that nothing beats the experience of going to a live game. Whether it is the number of fans that are completely focused on the game or other factors that create an experience that cannot yet be matched in the comfort of your home. Technology has opened sports up to many people who in the past did have the time or money to go to every one of their favorite teams’ games. But now they can watch them in high definition anywhere they want enhancing the experience of watching sports. I can only imagine what technology has in store for sports in the future.

  12. I disagree with this post in the sense that I believe technology has improved sports. It is hard to deny the interconnectedness that new technologies have brought to all sports. Back in the day you used to have to wait to see the scores from other cities in the news paper, now it is just one click away. I think that people will always go to sporting events because there is just something about being in those atmospheres that makes your experience real. I agree that instant replay has created some complexities, but if we learn how to control technology and not let it take over the game, there will be no threat.

  13. I also strongly disagree with this post. I do not think that technology has ruined the experience of going to a game. Technology has made watching a game from a home very enjoyable, however, there is no substitute for actually being at the game. The best example of this that I can think of is watching a baseball game. Technology has made home viewing much better through things like displaying strike zones, instant replays, and rewinding and fast-forwarding through commercials. But that cannot compete with actually being at Fenway Park, where you feel as though you are a part of the game.
    I also disagree with the statement instant replay is ruining games because we demand perfection and are upset when there is a mistake. I think people want perfection even without technology and are upset when there is a blown call. Instant replay helps deal with this problem. In most sports, referees can go back and review controversial plays to make sure they made the right decision. Referees also know that they are under great pressure to make the right call and if they do not, everyone will know. I think this improves the way referees call a game.

  14. I disagree with this post. As far as the the quality of the actual game goes and the refereeing the introduction of new technologies has taken away some of the human error. Watching the game in person and watching the game from home are two completely different experiences. Going to a sporting event is a social event, where you can share the same passion for your beloved team with thousands of other people all in one venue. Physically experiencing a game creates memories that will last for a lifetime. As for watching the game at home, the improved technologies have improved the viewing experience. Although it reveals the controversial nature of some calls, many viewers recognize human error as an essential part of the game. For example taking a charge in basketball or drawing an offensive foul largely has to do with selling the call. If this were left up to a perfect system, an element of the game would be eliminated. Overall technology has improved the way we experience games from home and at the stadium.

  15. I feel that without technology making it possible for me to follow my favorite teams at any time in any place, I would most likely have no interest in going to sports games in the first place. And as other commenters have pointed out, watching a game on television just doesn’t compare to the excitement of attending a live game, and I would still attend a few games each year regardless of whether or not I had the option to watch them on TV. If anything is ruining the way we watch sports, it’s not the alternative viewing methods provided by technology but rather some of the other factors you mentioned like rising costs and fan conduct at games. For example, I probably won’t be attending many, if any, Phillies games this season, not because I can watch them from the comfort of my own home, but rather because the last game I went to was well over $100 for tickets/parking/etc and I had to sit next to a drunk guy who vomited in only the 2nd inning.
    Nonetheless, I feel that this was a great blog; although I disagreed with your viewpoint, I felt that you did a great job in presenting both sides of the argument, defending your own side, and then inviting readers to join in the debate.

  16. Wow this post really sparked some great debate back and forth. I see both sides, and your post made some interesting points, but I also tend to agree with the fact that technology has not necessarily ruined sports. It has just changed it. Like many people have touched on, the feeling of going to a game can never really be replaced, and is actually much more special now that TV is commonplace. Additionally, there have been a number of technological advancements that have actually advanced sports. Nonetheless, it is a very interesting topic.

  17. I definitely don’t think that technology has ruined the way we watch sports. Technology has definitely enhanced the way we watch sports but in no way hinders the enjoyment we can get from sports. Even though you can avoid all the hassle of driving and buying a ticket, the intensity of actually being at a game wins out. Like most others that commented on this post, there is just no comparison to the feeling of actually being at the game right there with the players. For some events, such as the superbowl, technology is able to allow millions of people to cram in front of their TVs to watch from hundreds of miles away. Although I disagree with your post, I think that it brings up a good issue about the future of televised sports.

  18. The way technology has transformed sports is quite controversial, as one could easily gather just by reading all of these comments. Reading this thread just goes to show how passionate sports fans really are when it comes to debate about their team or the game. Although I don’t believe anything can beat buying tickets to your team’s home court and experiencing the roar of the crowd, the smell of the popcorn and pretzels, and the raw emotion as you watch in suspense play after play, it is interesting to observe technology’s role. When James Naismith first set up two peach baskets and handed his friends a leather ball I have a feeling he wouldn’t have predicted this. Technology’s influence over sports has opened up an entire new aspect of the sports industry; for example sports broadcasting television channels like ESPN have increased traffic on their website when people want to re-watch an awesome play from last weekend’s game, increasing the value of their advertisements, and websites like MLB.com have the ability to charge an annual fee for live streaming of all of your team’s baseball games. From a business perspective, technology is nothing but a positive in that it allows the sports entertainment industry to become increasingly lucrative every day.

  19. I noticed this post had a good amount of comments, so I figured I would put my two cents in. Yes, I agree that there is no comparison to the sensations of a live sports contest and the interaction with the fans around you (whether it be friendly or not). I just want to make a different point. What are the effects of people THINKING that technology ruins sports? If more people are willing to stay at home and watch their sports from the comfort of their love-seats, it will be easier for the true fans to sweat and cry in their uncomfortable stadium/ballpark seats. Being a Yankee fan, it’s sad to see the exorbitant prices of going to a ballgame. But with more people at home, ticket prices may drop and a new collection/ socio-economic group of people will be able to appreciate their peanuts and cracker jacks. And that’s just one example of the positive effects that can emerge from the negative effects and vice versa.

  20. I love how one post sparked this conversation and was my intended purpose for writing this blog, so I feel like I should defend my opinion. With technology I believe there has been a disconnection from actually being at the stadium and from your couch. I believe in some cases being able to rewind, fast forward, and record games takes some of the excitement or passion that makes it less of an appointment and less of must see tv especially when highlights will be run the next day. Convenient if you’re on the run as you watch 3 hours in a 30 second highlight. In continuation to this disconnect, I would like to bring up fantasy sports, where often most fans root for individual feats rather than your home team. The roar at the game is that everyone at stadium or is artificially created. Ask the Redskins who were recently caught the NFL for doing so. In light of fan conduct there are many incidents about fighting and in one case a dodger fan was killed last season

    With the purity of the game argument. There are baseball purists hold the umpires to a double standard when it comes to technology. They enjoy umpires when they call balls and strikes but hate when they blow a call. Both of which can be easily corrected. In the future do you think it possible to not have a referee or umpire to officiate if we want to have a perfect officiated game?

    In continuance about purity of the game it doesn’t just start and end with refereeing but with performance enhancing drugs and masking agents made possible through technology which takes away human aspect.

    On the other hand I believe technology has expanded sports to all parts of the world with social media and online streaming. There is more information and statistical data out there that can help develop coaches’ game and make executive decisions.

  21. Great post. I love the way it generated conversation. I hope others will follow suit. Nice work. 20 comments out of a class of 40 so. Well done

  22. Pingback: Exponential Innovation: The Ripple Effect | allanbronzo

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