For those who don't know, I wasn't always a Spurs fan. I grew up in Houston where, as I told you last week, my father introduced me to sports in an up-close-and-personal way. I got to walk the sidelines of an NFL gridiron and jog warm ups with major league baseball players. Basketball wasn't even my first love; that was football. It wasn't until I had turned ten that I started paying much attention to the NBA.
That was the year of the Rockets' first trip to The Finals and, of course, it ended in tears at the hands of the Celtics. Half a decade later and trip number two ended the against the same team, and with the same result. By the time I had grown into adulthood, and got engaged, I'd become a somewhat tortured sports fan. All three of my teams had, each in their own way, raised my hopes only to come up short. The Astros fell to the Mets in extra innings. The Oilers blew the biggest lead in NFL playoffs history against the Bills. And Hakeem could never solve the riddle of the Supersonics and George Karl's defenses that I will, to this day, still argue were illegal.
But things changed for the better for the men in red and white, and by the time I moved from Houston to Austin in '95, there were a couple of banners hanging in the rafters of the Summit. Still feels weird to think that was fifteen years ago. It was so hard to follow an out-of-town team back then. Finding a Houston Chronicle was nearly impossible, and chron.com wasn't much of anything at the time, really. I remember sitting in a parking lot on a warm fall evening listening to a car radio because it was the only place I got good enough reception to pick up Rockets games. The broadcast was full of static, and some nights wouldn't come in at all. But I followed the team the best that I could, despite the fact that I had virtually no one in my acquaintence who was a fellow Rockets fan.
Well, much changed in the years that followed. The Rockets killed me as a fan when they let Hakeem leave, and I drifted through several NBA seasons without much of a rooting interest at all. In the meanwhile, technology was changing what it meant to follow a team, and by the time I started cheering for the Spurs,it wasn't a process of searching for newspapers or driving from one parking spot to another in a search for better reception.
The 21st century is pretty good to a displaced sports nut. And who knows that better than fans who develop friendships with strangers that they met in a sports blog? PtR, and the rest of today's conveniences, make it so much easier to catch games, stay up to date on the latest happenings, and commiserate with people who care as much as you do about a mid-November two-point victory.
So, I'd like to hear from you guys. What are your favorite things about following sports in the modern era? Which inventions do you most appreciate? Is there something without which you wouldn't be able to survive? And finally, just for fun, what technology have you always wish existed, and why?