09 June 2011

How the DVR kills sports

I like Chuck Klosterman. While he's most well-known for his writing (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Eating a Dinosaur), I was introduced to him because he's a frequent guest on Bill Simmons' podcasts. He has a very analytical mind, and is constantly challenging Simmons' arguments and why Bill feels the way he does about things. It's kind of exhausting to listen to, and it bugs Simmons sometimes, but I like it.

Anyway, these two get along so well that when Simmons started Grantland.com, a place for columns and essays about sports and popular culture, he immediately grabbed Klosterman and made him a consulting editor.

Klosterman's first contribution to the site is titled "Space, Time and DVR Mechanics" and is about how watching sports has to be a live experience or it's pretty much terrible.
It doesn't matter how much I sequester myself or how thrilling the event is — if I know the game has finished, it's difficult to sustain authentic interest in what I've recorded. I inevitably fast-forward to the last two or three minutes (even when I have no vested interest in the outcome). Since I'm watching the game purely for entertainment, it shouldn't be any different from the real thing. It should, in fact, be better, just as it's more enjoyable to watch self-recorded episodes of Frontline or Storage Wars or any other traditional show that lives inside my DVR. In theory, I should be able to enjoy every single game I want to see, on my own schedule — all I need to do is avoid the Internet for a few hours and not glance at the ESPN ticker on public TV screens. But it never works: I get home, I start watching the recent past, and I find myself rushing toward the present.

So why is this?

It's a question I've asked myself a few times. With my NBA League Pass, I was able to watch games from previous days, but I rarely, if ever did. And if I did load up the previous night's games, I found myself fastforwarding a lot, like Klosterman mentions.

Read the rest of the column, you won't regret it.

If I can't grow up to be Bill Simmons, Chuck Klosterman is a fine second option.

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