By Rob Ficiur
Growing up in the old days (1970’s) telephones were very different than they are today. Back in those days people used phones to talk to other people.(Prior to my old days there were the older older days when everyone was on a party line – where they could listen to the neighbors’ every conversation.) Much has changed in the last fifty years – including the way sports fans use their phones to get their sports updates.
1. The first time I used the phone as a sports fan was to call the radio station for the Saturday night hockey scores. We needed the late Saturday hockey scores because there was no Sunday paper – so we would have to wait until Monday evening to get the scoring summaries. There were times that waiting two long days was too much to get a sports score.
2. By the mid 1990’s sports fans could call 24-hour sports information lines. After we called the sports information line with our high tech touch tone phones we could press the buttons we needed to get the scores and updates we had to have. In doing so we listened to a recording tell us the latest. The problem was that the latest was often out of date by several hours – and occasionally worse.
I remember on one of the NHL trade deadline days phoning the information line. There were years that the recording gave me up to the minute news. What stands out in my mind was a year when the 24 sports information line should have been called Yesterday’s Sports Stories – because nothing from traded deadline day was on the recorded message.
3. I had my first cell phone in about 1996. It was different than today’s cell phones because it was used to telephone people. In time cell phones developed ways of connecting to the internet – allowing sports fans to keep in constant touch with their team.
On January 7, 2014 Hockey Canada was going to announce the roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics. While most Canadians had internet access on their phones – I was about five phone generations behind. My cell phone could get the internet if I was standing underneath a cell tower and the wind was not blowing. Otherwise getting any data off my phone was an exercise in patience – which often turned into a lack of patience. “I can find this out at home,” I might have growled once or twice when my internet request did not work on my dinosaur like phone.
On that day I managed to get the names of 22 players on Team Canada’s 25 man roster. What good was that? I shouted at my phone. Tell me who the last three players are! The lesson I learned was that a cheap cell phone was not a useful device for a sports fan who “needs to know” what is going on this exact second.
4. In the last year I upgraded to an I-Phone. Now I know everything I need to know as it happens. When the Blue Jays flirted with a no hitter this year, I was able to follow the last innings pitch by pitch as they happened.
The great thing about the new technology is I can get every score in real time – with up to date stats to go with it. The bad thing about the technology is that I can access too much up to date information. A fan with a day job, a family cannot have the time to search out every website on their team and sport.
5. Sports Fans’ Phone in the future? Many fans are now watching live games on their phones. I have resisted the temptation to do this because if my team loses I have been tempted to throw something – and throwing the phone I have in my hand would not be a wise thing to do.
With the live games on our phones today – what could new technology bring in the future for Sports Fans’ and phones? If we are getting the same information as the fans at the game what more could there be? I found several ideas on future technology sites. One site suggested that thirty years from now a sports contact lens could be a way we see our games and other phone services. How interactive can phones and technology get? The in the stands feel might be the same in the stadium as on your phone three decades from now.
There is one must have for sports fans’ phones in the future. When the games become so interactive that you feel you are there you want a phone battery that is going to last. Sports fans of the future will not be amused when, on the last play of the game or on the final shot for the championship…the battery of your phone dies out. Sports fans of the future will be lost having to wonder (for five or ten minutes) what happened in that moment when their battery konked out at the worst possible time.