Sports are more digitally social than ever and that might not be good

By Kyle Porter

George W. Bush and Laura Bus at the Final Four. (Getty Images)
President George W. Bush and wife Laura at the Final Four. (Getty Images)

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Here are the two most exciting things that happened in the first half of Monday night's national championship game:

1. A father-son duo lighting the biggest big screen on fire by doing an incredible jig to Pharrell's Happy. It was one of the more incredible in-game dancing performances I've ever seen.

Mark Madsen thought it was the greatest thing he has ever seen (probably):

2. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Tony Romo, Tony Romo's wife, and Jason Witten were seen sitting in Jerry Jones' suite watching the game. The 79,238 fans in attendance went absolutely berserk.

The third most exciting thing was an Alex Poythress put-back dunk which paled in comparison to the first two most exciting things.

Everyone around me, plus the entire Internet, was fixated on these two things for most of the half. They were the only two things from the first half every single person at the game will remember.

Nothing that happened in the actual game even compares.

I know it's 2014 so this isn't anything you don't already know but when you really think about it, that's a pretty strange phenomenon.

Certainly this isn't the first time anyone has written about the dichotomy of following live events, well, live versus following them via social media.

But have we talked about what that's doing to us as fans?

I think it sort of makes us less intelligent when it comes to sports. We hardly even know what happened on the actual court because we're chasing the hot viral social thing online like a pack of dogs following a drunk guy dragging a raw slab of meat behind him.

I don't necessarily dislike the shift in attention to the peripherals that happen at live events -- the fixation on the GIFs and memes rolling through our phone feeds -- because I think folks should be allowed to be drawn to that which holds their attention, but it is certainly different.

Maybe this is just me.

Maybe it's an insulated world I live in -- this blogging and writing and GIFing world -- but Twitter and Facebook are publicly traded companies for a reason.

And let's be honest, most of the time we're more entertained by the off-the-court happenings than the on-the-court happenings anyway.

The entire second half was dominated by folks trying to one-up other folks with every single possible angle of the James Young super-dunk available to the free world.

That's fine and I watched every single one of them but it feels like it makes us appreciate the goings-on of the 67 tournament games a little less than we should.

Did we fully appreciate the way Shabazz Napier strapped UConn on his back for six consecutive games?

What about UConn's four titles in 15 years mini-dynasty?

Maybe, but not as much as we would have in the 1970s or '80s or even '90s when we didn't have a waterfall of media distracting us from the product at hand. In those days, we couldn't peel our eyes away because we didn't have the safety net of knowing we could watch whatever we missed approximately 15 seconds after it happened.

We can't go back, of course, but tonight's game made me want to turn my phone off, shut my computer down, and just drink in the greatness that Kevin Ollie and his squad were pouring out for their sixth consecutive game.

Of course how did I end my night? With the greatest peripheral my 15-year-old self could possibly have imagined.

Sitting underneath a downpour of of confetti in a delirious arena writing about the national championship game and watching One Shining Moment on 15 different screens overhead.

Of course.

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