There’s nothing sacred about social media, and sometimes it’s okay.
One of the special benefits of watching live sports is that you can celebrate (or feel sorry for) with millions of other fans. But what if you were able to process these extreme emotions 30 seconds before all the others at your watch party?
That’s basically what I do every time I sit in front of the TV, trembling with anxiety at a football game. No, I have no supernatural prognostic powers; if I did, I probably would a lot more sports betting. I’m just a digital guy with no cable subscriptions, so I have to trust him several times streaming services – which means that any live game I see comes with a delay of about 15 to 30 seconds.
Of course, as I follow a lot of sports fans (and beat writers as well as official team accounts) on Twitter, my timeline is a spoiler area in any big game. Whether they’re watching the game with a shorter delay or not, a lot of these people are tweeting reactions to things I haven’t seen yet, and just me can’t hold on a look. I will literally refresh my timeline over and over before an important performance so I can know what will happen next. I do it to protect my emotional well-being, of course.
Take the January playoffs between my Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills playoffs (a thriller that would be immediately understood one of the best ever when it was finished), e.g. In the first quarter, the Chiefs ’official account released this solid piece of unbiased analysis.
The tweet may have been deleted
(Opens in new tab)
(In terms of sports, “QB1 HAS WHEEEEEEEEEELS” means the starting quarterback is good at running and not just throwing.)
At this point, the Chiefs were already 7-0 against a team that had evaporated earlier in the season, and they were nervous. all the way on the edge. If they couldn’t get a touchdown here, then my superstitious mind was ready to end the game, even with three quarters left. (This happens when you leave your emotional well-being in the hands of a team that spent 50 years between appearances in the Super Bowl, as I did many years ago).
Luckily, I saw that tweet before my team’s superstar quarterback entered the end zone to match the match. Knowing what was going to happen on my TV, I was able to take a deep breath, relax, sit back and enjoy the action like an emotionally healthy person. This has probably happened to me a dozen times in every Chiefs game.
QB1 An example with “WHEEEEEEEEEELS”.
Credit: David E. Klutho / Sports Illustrated via Getty Images
Writing this for you, dear readers, makes me realize how strange it is to do this to myself every week during the football season. Any football game I watch is a two-screen experience now, it requires my TV and iPhone to have Twitter open. In 2019, when KC won the Super Bowl, I was surrounded by friends at a big clock party, and unfortunately I spent a lot of time that night refreshing the timeline.
All being still my friends means that I walk with the right people. But if we were asked to change this habit, we would have a problem.
Although I will not recommend this to anyone else, I will defend my actions. Sport allows us to take deep care of unimportant things, and that’s great because it’s a useful distraction from all the horrors of everyday life. But caring too much for something with such a small stake also carries the risk of serious frustration, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Even if you personally choose not to take advantage of this digital precognition, you will surely see the value of knowing what will happen in the unexpected and uncontrollable moments of your life. Think of it this way: If you can’t change the outcome, you can at least get up emotionally.
Apple and Amazon are changing the way they watch live sports
I hope so, as a big tech company like Apple and Amazon fight to control live sports playback, neither knows how to reduce the delay. If that were to happen, however, I would have to learn how to deal with the results in real time, and I’m not sure my pessimistic heart, broken-too-often-too, can take on the hearts of Chiefs fans.