28 sports things millennials take for granted – For The Win
Alright, young ‘uns. Take a seat as I lean on my cane and tell you about how good you have it.
In all seriousness, sports as a whole has come a long way since the late 20th century. So much has changed, from on-field performance to the way we consume sports, both from afar and in person.
So for those of you known as millennials, let’s review what you might not realize you take for granted.
1. Instant highlights
There are going to be a lot of entries under the umbrella of “the Internet changed it all,” and here’s one. GIFs, Vines, regular old streaming videos … they’re all at your fingertips within minutes. You don’t just get three or four replays of Odell Beckham’s one-handed catch and maybe a few more later in the game — you can watch the play ad nauseum, pause it, share it, bathe in all its glory, all before the next kickoff. If you missed a huge play way back when, you’d have to wait until SportsCenter or your local newscast to relive it. Speaking of which …
3. The ability to instantaneously win a bet
This is an actual conversation I had on Saturday: Someone asked if I could name every college football FBS team whose nickname didn’t end in “S.” I failed miserably, but that’s not the point. The person who asked me that trivia question forgot some as well, but seconds later, boom! There was the list on our phones. Huge, I tell you. No more waiting hours or even days to find out the true answer in a — gasp! — book.
4. Advanced statistics
Pretty self-explanatory. Suddenly, the simple things you read in a newspaper box score (speaking of relics!) mean so much less. On the flip side, we’re so much more enlightened. We can now tell if Tiger Woods is the greatest putter in golf, how Mike Trout stacks up historically to Mickey Mantle, or why a player averaging 7.0 points per game in hoops is more valuable to a team than a 20.0 ppg-er because of defense.
5. The first-down line
Let’s get specific for a second. This has made football so much better to watch. There’s a little bit of drama lost when you’d see an official call for the chain gang to measure for a first down, but in exchange, you get to see if a player made it across the line with nearly-perfect accuracy in real time. Except, you know, if you’re a Michigan fan.
6. Teams that never win are now winning
Hey, millennial! Did you know the Boston Red Sox won their first ring since 1918 back in 2004? Or that the Chicago Cubs haven’t been known for winning anything since 1908? How about Cleveland grabbing an NBA title last year? You’re all sooooo lucky to have gotten to see tortured franchises and cities win like they have.
7. Knowing what the score is up to the second
That little thing in the corner that tells you info like balls, strikes, outs, inning, timeouts, time remaining, and, most importantly, the score? It’s called a bug, and it wasn’t always there. And if you weren’t in front of TV or radio? You’d have to go to a payphone and call up one of those numbers for an update.
8. Stories instantaneously taking off
I may be misremembering, but I recall picking up my latest issue of Sports Illustrated in December of 1999 and reading the now-famous story about Atlanta Braves closer John Rocker after high school one day. But I felt like the fallout from that story took a few days to develop. If that feature was published today, the firestorm and subsequent indefinite suspension would take mere hours. Again, the Internet, man.
9. Heavy security at stadiums
Getting patted down at games and having your bags checked? A much rarer occurrence before 2001.
10. Wild cards
It used to be much, much harder to get into the playoffs in baseball with division winners battling it out. Now? Two Wild Card teams get a shot at punching a ticket. That means like a dozen teams still have a shot in September!
11. Illegal streaming
Again, the Internet changed EVERYTHING. If you live in the U.S. and there’s a soccer game in Spain not on “regular” TV, you can find it. But let’s also throw in that there are so many more networks legally carrying so many more games. Never has there been so much access to live sports.
12. Pitchers regularly throwing 95 MPH
Or, in the case of Aroldis Chapman, 100.
13. Watching multiple NCAA Tournament games at once
You’d have to take what your CBS station would give you instead of flipping to the most exciting game of each slate as it was happening.
14. Sharing a game with people on social media
I used to watch hockey games alone and call up my friends to say, “DUDE! DID YOU SEE WHAT BRENDAN SHANAHAN JUST DID?” (Yeah, I said dude, sue me).
15. Direct access to athletes
It used to be that reporters were the middlemen. Or you’d have to write a letter to a sports figure and hope for something like a signed photo in return. Now, you can have the thrill of an actual athlete’s retweet, or to play a real linebacker in Madden (even if you aren’t aware of it).
16. Knowing right away there’s a rainout
This is underrated — maybe you’d be on the road to a game, get to the stadium and find out it was called while in transit. Or you wouldn’t go at all if there was a bad forecast, only to find out that storm took a different route. At least now you’d find out right away, even if you were heading over, giving you time to turn around and go home.
17. Instant fantasy scores
This one is personal — fantasy sites used to charge for instant scores, so I would cheaply scan the box scores and write out the result on paper after games would finish.
18. Knowing every player on every team
This seems pretty pertinent in baseball and football. There were people who rooted for National League teams who had no clue who was in the American League, or NFL die-hards whose first look at AFC squads was during the playoffs.
19. The lack of a glowing puck in the NHL
This may have gotten buried over the years, but did you know that FOX telecasts of NHL games used to feature a glowing puck so you could find it easier? And that fans were furious about it? You’re lucky you never had to deal with that.
20. The existence of multiple uniforms
“Back in my day, there used to be two uniforms: Home and away … ”
21. High definition television
I remember being at a party in the mid-2000s and a woman had one of the first hi-def TVs I ever saw. She showed me the difference in an NBA game between regular definition … and then switched it over. I almost cried. I could see the lines on the court, sweat on brows and a texture on the basketball. It was glorious.
22. Good food at events
I’m not saying hot dogs and fries are bad food. I’m saying that when lobster rolls and artisanal pulled pork and locavore tacos and all that came along, it was a serious game-changer (no pun intended, I promise).
23. Pass-heavy football
Of the 48 4,500-yard-plus passing seasons in NFL history, do you know how many of those occurred before 2000? Eight.
24. Officials getting calls right with instant replay
It doesn’t always mean zebras and umps are always right. It just means they’re wrong less.
25. PED testing
No matter how you feel about how leagues are handling PEDs or how effective it is, this is something that is so new and so very different.
26. The ability to follow less popular sports the same way you can with big sports
This comes courtesy of my colleague Maggie Hendricks, who noted she can keep track of sports like figure skating, fencing or college wrestling just as easily as she can with the NFL or NBA. No more waiting around for newsletters.
27. Common Tommy John surgery
It seems like the least surprising news when a pitcher complains of elbow discomfort and, days later, is told he needs his ulnar collateral ligament replaced. And that’s surprising. You can also lump in other common procedures, or the fact that it takes so much less time for certain athletes to recover from ACL tears.
28. The online secondary ticket market
Back in myyyy day … you’d have to buy tickets directly from a friend, from a ticket broker, or a scalper, which was always a little nerve-wracking. You weren’t sure if it was an undercover cop or if you were buying fake tickets.
For more on this subject, check out our list of 35 things millennials will never get to see (and yes, there’s some crossover!).
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