Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tweeting the Night Away

For a guy who frequently blogs about basketball, I actually haven’t watched all that much of it this year. I don’t own a TV nor do I subscribe to NBA League Pass. That leaves me to either see games in-person, go to sports bars, or find shitty streams on the internet. I’ve been to four Warriors games this year and occasionally go to a bar, but usually I fire up or and pray that I can get a non-choppy stream (unexpected bonus: I get to listen to the national or opposing team announcers for Warriors games, not Bob Fitzgerald!). Alas, there are nights like last night, when I don’t pick the game, the game picks me. Thus, despite 15–20 poor quality streams of the Heat-Thunder showdown, I watched the Timberwolves-Warriors and Bucks-Cavaliers. Oftentimes I get so frustrated that I cease watching basketball altogether. In the era of HDTV, I’m left with Twitter.

Last night I “watched” Heat-Thunder and Lakers-Clippers on Twitter, and it was fascinating. I know I’m three years late on this whole Twitter thing, but bear with me. For the most part, there is a low-level of constant chatter about these games. Tweets from the beat writers at the games, or bloggers watching on TV. Tweets like this:

You can follow an entire game, and have a decent idea of what is happening. But then, something big happens, and Twitter blows up:

It’s like seeing the future. I now know what is about to show up on my Facebook feed, youtube, Sportscenter etc. But do I actually know what happened during that basketball game? I can tell you that the Lakers beat the Clippers, the game was close, and Blake Griffin had two monster dunks. Andrew Bynum also had a pretty good game.

I don’t really have a point here, just musing on the basketball fan experience. I know many people hold the feeling that it is more fun to watch an NFL game on TV than in-person, as you can see more action on your 55” plasma, PLUS you get replays! You also don’t have to pay outrageous prices, get transportation to the game etc. Is it possible to take this feeling even further? Is it more fun to “watch” a game on Twitter because I don’t have to sit through all the boring stuff, just a low-level commentary about the game. I am immediately alerted when anything noteworthy (Blake’s two dunks, Westbrook’s flagrant foul on LeBron, Ellis and Jenning’s sick alleyoop) happens, all the while I’m checking my e-mail, applying for a job or laughing at a cat video.

I watch and blog about basketball for a lot of reason. There is an inherent beauty in the sport, from 3-pointers and dunks to good post footwork and a well-run 2-on-1, that I love watching, and is certainly lost when I follow a game on Twitter. But I also love the story lines, the clash of personalities, and using basketball to examine bigger societal issues. Twitter might not be the best place to be to see Serge Ibaka play good help defense, but it was certainly the right place to be to see LeBron and the Heat take a stand against racism in this country.

I will continue attending as many games as I can each season (though at 0-4 on the nights that I visit Oracle, the Warriors are making that less and less appealing) as there is nothing more liberating than cheering with the 19,000 Oracle faithful as Klay Thompson drains a corner three. The arena is the place to be to watch the pure sport, but more and more it is the last place to be if you want to see anything substantive happen (which is part of the reason the Outcry at Oracle was so fascinating).

I don’t know what this means for the future of basketball and blogging, but I certainly find it interesting.

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