Monday, April 04, 2011
A strange thing happened last night. Life as I know it came to an abrupt and complete standstill. While watching "House Hunters International," the TV picture froze and remained frozen for several minutes. Then I noticed that my laptop was no longer connected to the internet. Dialing the phone to call AT&T to attempt to get the problem resolved, I discovered that my phone also didn't work. This amazing bundled package I had purchased a year ago had crashed, nearly hurtling me back in time to the late 1800's. Without my cell phone, I would have had no choice but to take the journey.
So, today I wait in my four hour window for the service technician to arrive. The phone call last night had a surreal aspect since I never spoke to a real person and I was reminded several times during the call that I could "go online to find solutions" or "tune to channel 1000 for help" prompting me to yell at the recording that I had no phone, internet, or TV service – idiot! I wouldn't have even been able to call for assistance without my cell phone. With one sudden crash I became stranded on an island in the sea of technology unable to reach civilization. Helpfully, the recorded voice told me he would be running a few tests and there was a series of R2D2 beeps and boops I assume to assure me that tests were being run. Then the voice said essentially "I can't help you. You're really, really broken," and set up a service appointment for today.
I realize now how totally dependent I've become on my wireless life. And it got me thinking about when I first began working for the boys' soccer club; we were just beginning to establish a website for the club. That was just ten years ago. We couldn't make our website too complex because most people had very slow dial-up connections that couldn't handle uploading huge picture files to give the website a more professional and colorful presentation. Instead we focused on simple Word files to get out the information and provided some basic forms for things like camps and tryouts. Yet once that website opened the club had a far more efficient means for communicating with its members. We could announce field closings, provide game and practice schedules, post coaching bios, make available maps to other clubs' fields, provide links to the state soccer association and to US Youth Soccer and give members easy access to any and all club information. I built that first website using Front Page and some basic HTML coding. The websites that exist now have so much complexity I wouldn't even want to venture into creating those multi-windowed, picture rich destinations.
Club websites opened slowly, but now we assume every club will have a website. We count on being able to search a club name and have the link pop up in our browser. We don't give it a second thought. The same evolution has occurred with social networking sites. Now organizations will have a Facebook
account just to keep their name out there. People expect that they'll be able to connect with their club, the coaches, even teams and players as easily as they do with their best friends. With smart phones we can connect with the internet just about anywhere. The old days of the phone tree are long gone since we can send a text message out to as many people as we want with a single push of the "send" key. Last minute field changes or game cancellations don't create as many hard feelings because we can get the word out quickly and easily to everyone involved. When the boys were just starting select soccer, the wireless age had barely begun. Now we are at the mercy of a single blown modulator in our home!
While I'm not all that happy that I don't have the last 15 minutes of "The Good Wife" DVR'd from last night, I understand that with that disappointment comes great freedom and life improvement. By six tonight I'll have all my wireless conveniences up and running. I'm grateful for the hundreds of websites I can visit to give me immediate soccer information whether I need directions to the fields, I want to order tickets to the El Salvador vs Cuba game in Chicago, I have to find the right goalkeeper gloves, or I want to read a press release or check out a video on www.youtube.com/usyouth
. Just fifteen years ago, I was extremely limited in what I could find on the internet. So despite this infuriating glitch, I recognize that it's a mere blip on the ever-improving information highway.
Before the internet went down I read a very interesting story. Chad Ochocinco, the Bengal's football player, recently tried out for Sporting Kansas City of the MLS. He didn't make the team, but he was invited to continue training with them. As coach Peter Vermes said, "I think it's also good for him. He realizes this is a lot more difficult than it (appears to be). For our sport, it's great because I think there's a lot of people out there who question how hard it is to play this game and it's very, very difficult." I hope this is a trend. As athletes seek out opportunities to extend their athletic careers perhaps a few more football players will turn to soccer (especially if the lock-out continues). They won't have the respite of game stoppages every ten seconds or be offered oxygen after racing down the field, so they will need to be very fit. But soccer can offer them an opportunity to condition their brains as well as their bodies while they can bring to soccer some of their fan loyalty. After all, if you can't watch the Bengals play next fall, then drive two hours to Columbus and watch The Crew! Bryce went to a Seattle Sounders home game last week. There were nearly 40,000 fans in a huge stadium. He had been to games in England and agreed that this experience had a lot of the same energy and fun. So we may be seeing the hopeful signs of a trend – NFL players seeking out the MLS and fans embracing the electricity of a game.
Regardless, the Internet has furthered our ability to find and embrace our sport as well as the opportunity to express and share our love with others at the click of a button.