Sports Illustrated Cover Captures The Problem With Modern Sports Fans
Take a long, hard look at this picture. What's wrong with what you see? Here's a hint, it has nothing to do with the Triple Crown winning horse.
A Triple Crown winner is history. It's a moment that people who were there will talk about the rest of their lives. One thing is for sure, they will all have a picture or video to remember it with...
At first glance, this Sports Illustrated cover simply depicts a gorgeous horse, American Pharoah, striding his way into sports history. Upon further inspection, the image that struck me the most was the sea of smart phones. Take a step back and observe how few people are viewing history with their own eyes and not through the screen on their phone. I'm not saying it's their fault either. I do it too. We all do.
Social media is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, if you miss a big play or crazy moment, no worries. Somebody will post it on YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Twitter...you get the picture. Literally, you get the picture from more angles than previous generations of sports fans could ever imagine in their wildest dreams.
That being said, I find myself missing more and more moments in games because I'm scrambling to get something up on the internet. It's not just fans in the stands that are spending a ton of time tapping away on their smart phones, cropping pictures and adding filters to their fantastic snapshots of sunset at the ballpark or the diving catch they worked so hard to capture. Even people at home can't resist doubling down on their technology, pausing and rewinding their TV's to make sure they get that hot video up on the web before everybody else.
Maybe it's just me. I always forget to take pictures of big moments. My photo albums are lacking some snapshots, for sure. I don't think modern sports fans are trying to fill photo albums though. They want likes, retweets and shares.
Look deeper still. Which sponsors do you notice first when inspecting the race track? Draft Kings, a fantasy sports site. Two of American sports fans' largest obsessions, sandwiching a new moment in sports history. Fantasy drafts, gambling and smart phones.
It's the future of sports. Is it taking away from the ethereal element or compromising the way we ingest the games we love so much? Maybe.
Think about this. The last time a horse won the Triple Crown was in 1978. Most folks around the track didn't have cell phones. They were only invented five years before. Fantasy sports were simply that, a fantasy. If you asked somebody who was there on that day, they could probably describe the moment with some clarity and nostalgia.
Our generation of sports fans will have pictures. We will have videos, memes, gifs and blog posts galore about the events we attend, but will the memories be as vibrant?
A picture of a rose is beautiful, but sometimes it's better just to bend down and smell it instead.