In 2007 when Brett Favre unleashed an overtime bomb to beat Denver in week eight, I knew the Packers had won only because a tiny football disappeared from my computer screen and the score changed to show the Packers in the lead. Likewise, when Ryan Braun hit a go-ahead home run to launch the Brewers into the playoffs last year, I found out because the “current play” update on my screen went from “ball in play” to “home run.” And in the same way, I was amused to find that the Cavaliers had beaten the Orlando Magic in game 2 of their 2009 playoff series because the tiny animated basketball on my laptop display had floated calmly into a digitized picture of a net. I would later see replays of these spectacular plays thanks to various internet sources, but in the moment, they came to me as described above. To illustrate, this is how I watched last Wednesday’s Badger win over Duke:
To watch sports via internet gamecast is to bear the burden of the international fan. For the past three years I have sat calmly at my computer, sometimes at home and sometimes (thanks to an unfortunate time difference) at work, and cheered heartily for Wisconsin sports teams via the sports media equivalent to snail mail. Sometimes, as in the cases above, the results are thrilling. Other times, such as when the game cast mysteriously goes blank or I am called to class with my team holding a lead only to return to a lopsided loss, this medium yields more depressing returns. But always, I sit and watch regardless.
This year, in an attempt to follow my football teams more closely, I invested in satellite TV and have begun downloading game broadcasts from the website tenyardtorrents.com. The games broadcast on TV are almost always shown on a couple days delay but provide for a more authentic viewing experience. Downloading, while often more timely, is a bit like waiting for your favorite song to be played on the radio. That is, you know the song already exists somewhere and you know it’s going to be played, but you have no idea when it will be delivered to you. While I find this method to be slightly more convenient, Sundays and Mondays spent in media blackout waiting to watch a single game unspoiled can be trying on one’s patience.
Tomorrow, I will wake up to read a final injury report before calmly removing ESPN.com from computer’s home page. At night I will return from work, make dinner, and sit down to drum my fingers and wait for someone named WarTiger to upload the Packers-Ravens game to the internet. Hopefully sometime before midnight, I will finish downloading the broadcast and sit down with a coffee and baited breath to watch on my 13-inch computer screen. I will hope for a win, knowing all the while that the outcome has already been decided. This is the burden of the international sports fan.
If you are watching the Packer game tomorrow, please enjoy and think of me waiting in the dark on the other side of the world. Know that despite my frustrations, I am waiting patiently because that’s what a good Wisconsin sports fan does, and that eventually I too will share your joy and return to this blog and the rest of the world. And know that somehow, whether the Packers win or lose, it will all have been worth it.