Friday, April 02, 2010

A pleasant surprise for me upon moving to our place in Boston last June was discovering that the Fox Soccer Channel was part of our basic cable lineup. I enjoy catching the occasional game on television enough, for example, that back in my Houston days, I'd happily watch the Mexican league games available on local Spanish-language stations despite the language barrier.

Getting the commentary in English, not to mention seeing English Premier League games again has been really nice. But a game I watched recently, Manchester United at Bayern Munchen, was this American's introduction to UEFA Champion's League action. I had heard of this competition, of course, but never really followed it because I simply don't have the time to plan my life around sporting events or -- as I would have needed in Houston -- the money to watch such things on a pay-per-view basis at a favorite pub.

Boy, was I missing out! I caught most of that match and really enjoyed the high level of competition. FSC also happens to have a well-thought-out companion web site. This is great, because I can now easily track the progress of Arsenal, my favorite club, in the tournament and watch or record its upcoming match. (The Gunners need to win it, away from home, to remain in the tournament, and lots of them are injured.) Of course, there's also the rest of this tournament and the Premier League season.

The backdrop to all this is the decades-old telecommunications revolution that has made massive amounts of information available cheaply to anyone at any time. Watching the premier league was, for me as I grew up, a family Sunday tradition (i.e., Soccer Made in Germany with Toby Charles). The other day, I used a game in the background to make doing taxes semi-bearable. If it's easy to use yesterday's must-see viewing as half-background, it's just as easy to take the innovative technology and the political freedom that make it possible for granted. Back then, just seeing any Premier League game was worth planning a Sunday evening around. Now, I'm talking about picking and choosing what to watch and when.

If you don't like soccer, think of something else you enjoy that technology has improved and made easier for you to get, and remember that the next time someone blathers about how we "need" more economic controls or how "exploited" we are by Big Corporations.

-- CAV

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