A week earlier ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, along with guest Chuck Klosterman, recorded an episode of Simmons podcast in which they recapped the NCAA tournament. They also tried to determine what the golden age of college basketball.Â They eventually decided on the 1970s and the early 1980s.
These two events demonstrate a drastic change and a difficult misconception in how we view sports in todayâ€™s world.
In the case of Tiger Woodsâ€™ cursing being carried into homes across America, it is important to remember that this occurs because of the technology of today’s television broadcasts.Â Often called “Super Microphones” these large, satellite dish looking microphones are ubiquitous on the sidelines of sporting events.Â They provide sounds of the games that previous generations never experienced.
Because of these microphones we hear Tiger (and others) curse.Â Every shot of Woods is seen on television when he’s in competition at a golf tournament.Â As a result of the advancements in technology and the amount of coverage he receives we are more aware of his verbal outbursts.Â It is important to remember this would not be available without advancements in technology.
When Jack Nicholas and Arnold Palmer stalked the links at Augusta, their cursing was not broadcast across the nation because the technology to do so did not exist.Â There is little different today with Tiger’s profanity than with what likely occurred in years past from Nicholas or Palmer and many other players.Â We need to keep things in perspective.
This brings up a larger issue which Bill Simmons’ search for the “Golden Era” of college basketball demonstrates.
There is no simpler truth in sports then the fact that we view the past through rose colored glasses.Â We idolize it.Â We forget its faults.Â Because today’s game is in front of us and covered in an unending 24-hour news cycle, we are well aware of its shortcomings and faults.Â Once again technology plays a part here.
Past generations did not experience the media saturation of today.Â Players have always engaged in cheating and questionable moral conduct.Â There were always major problems in every sport, but because they weren’t covered to the extent they are today we forget them or simply aren’t aware of them.Â This creates a nostalgic effect for bygone eras with see as purer or “golden”. No such times ever really existed.Â We want them to exist.Â We think they existed, because our lack of our perception of them.
We can examine any sport to find this to be true.Â Babe Ruth was a scoundrel, a drunk and a womanizer.Â He had a child out of wedlock and then had his wife claim the child was hers and raise it as such.Â This could never happen today.Â We would know right away what the Babe was up too.Â It would be front page news.Â He would be lampooned as a fool and derided as a terrible role model for America’s youth.Â Of course in the 1920s the exact opposite of all of this was true.Â There was not enough media to discover all these things (and to some extent the media were interested in an athlete’s prevent lives). The Babe was hero, an icon and the most popular man in the country.Â This would never happen today.
Examine any “pureâ€ era of sport and you’ll find this.
The NFL was plagued by terrible life-threating injuries for decades.Â Advancements in safety and equipment have drastically changed this.Â College basketball was a cesspool of recruiting violations by coaches who ignored the NCAA because they knew no one would discover what they were up too or dare to challenge them.Â The Olympics barred professionals for nearly a century, creating the dichotomy of presenting itself as determining the best athletes in the world without allowing the best athletes in the world to compete.
It is important to remember how the increase in media coverage has changed our perception of sport, by presenting current events in a way past generations never experienced.Â This changes our perception of present day sports in relation to our perception of the sports of yesteryear.Â We would be wise to remember this by keeping our experiences in context.Â By doing so we enrich our experiences of the games we love and begin to see them as they truly are.