Nothing is sacred on social media, and sometimes that’s okay.
One of the unique perks of watching live sports is that you can celebrate (or sympathize) with millions of other fans at the same time. But what if you could process those extreme emotions about 30 seconds before everyone else at your watch party?
This is essentially what I do every time I sit in front of the TV and tremble with fear of a football game. No, I don’t have supernatural powers of prognosis; if I did, I probably would a lot of more sports betting. I’m just an all-digital guy with no cable contract, so I depend on a variety of streaming services – and that means that every live game I watch comes with a delay of about 15 to 30 seconds.
Of course, since I follow many sports fans (and hit writers and even official team accounts) on Twitter, my timeline is a minefield of spoilers at every big game. Whether they’re watching with a comparatively shorter delay or at the game in person, a bunch of these people are tweeting reactions to things I haven’t seen, and I just do can not resist A short view. I’ll literally keep updating my timeline before every major game so I know what’s going to happen next. I do this, of course, to protect my emotional well-being.
Take January’s playoff game between my beloved Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills (a thriller that would immediately be considered one of the best ever when it was over), for example. In the first quarter, the Chiefs’ official report released this compelling piece of unbiased analysis.
The tweet may have been deleted
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(Athletically, “QB1 HAS WHEEEEEEEEEELS” means the quarterback is running well, not just throwing.)
At this point, the Chiefs were already 7-0 down against a team that rolled over them earlier in the season, and so was my nerve All the Way at the edge. If they couldn’t score a touchdown here, my superstitious mind was ready to call the game over, even if there were three full quarters left. (That’s what happens when you hand over your emotional well-being to a team that once spent 50 years between Super Bowl appearances, as I did many years ago.)
Luckily I saw this tweet right in front of my team’s superstar quarterback ran into the end zone to tie the game. Armed with the knowledge of what would be happening on my TV, I was able to take a deep breath, relax, sit back, and enjoy the action like an emotionally sane person would. That probably happens to me about a dozen times during every Chiefs game.
An example of QB1 with “WHEEEEEEEEEELS”.
Photo credit: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images
As I write this for you, dear readers, I realize how strange it is that I do this to myself every week during football season. Every football game I watch is now a two-screen experience with both my TV and iPhone in hand and Twitter open. When KC won the Super Bowl in 2019, I was surrounded by friends at a big watch party and regrettably spent much of the night refreshing my timeline.
The fact that they’re all still friends with me means I’m hanging out with the right people. But if they asked me to change that habit, we would have a problem.
While I would not recommend anyone to do this, I will defend my actions. Sport gives us the opportunity to focus intensely on things that don’t matter, and that’s great because it’s a handy distraction from all the horrors of everyday life. But caring a little too much at such low stakes also risks severe disappointment, especially when you have no control over the outcome. Even if you personally choose not to use this digital premonition, you can certainly see the value in knowing what’s about to happen in the most unpredictable, uncontrollable moments of your life. Think of it this way: if you can’t change the outcome, you can at least brace yourself emotionally for it.
Apple and Amazon are changing the way we watch live sports
As big tech companies like Apple and Amazon, I can only hope so fight it out taking control of live sports streaming, no one figures out how to reduce the lag. However, when that happens I’ll have to learn to deal with the real-time results, and I’m not sure my pessimistic, too-often broken Chiefs fan heart could take that.