For those of you who follow a sports news outlet on social media, it was nearly impossible to miss the viral video of a group of Arizona State University sorority girls at an Arizona Diamondbacks game shamelessly caught on camera snapping dozens of selfies. Aside from the sheer quantity of photos these girls took of themselves during the two-minute span they were on national television — a girl donning a bedazzled Diamondbacks shirt must have snapped no fewer than 40 pictures of herself and her churro during her 120 seconds of fame — the best part of the video is the two announcers’ commentary on the complete depravity of the situation unfolding.
At one point the Diamondbacks get a hit, and when the camera cuts back to the right-field bleachers to reveal a homogenous herd of girls duck-facing into their luminescent screens, one commentator finally cracks and cries out, “Can we do an intervention [for these girls]? How about if we send one of the guys out there to go collect all the phones? You’re not getting them back until the end of the game!”
The sad scene reveals many weaknesses of our current generation, including our socially destructive addiction to technology, the crippling effects of social media on our ability to hold a conversation with a live person and the shocking number of takes someone needs to capture the perfect Snapchat of her and her foot-long hot dog.
Maybe it reveals how we’re the worst generation of sports fans ever.
Let’s step away from the sorority girls at a baseball game example for second because let’s be honest, we’d all rather Snapchat for three hours than watch a baseball game in its entirety. Last football season, the Wall Street Journal produced a report that since 2009, the average Power-5 conference team saw a drop in home student attendance by 6 percent, citing that students were more likely to just go to the tailgate or choose to watch the game at a local bar rather than experience the real-life euphoria of a Saturday afternoon during the fall from inside the actual stadium.
Even at the SEC-staple University of Florida, student attendance dropped a mind-boggling 22 percent from 2009-2014. Besides the fact that it seems as though thousands upon thousands of college football fans are more concerned with their buzz wearing off than watching their team live, our generation has a hard time attending a live sporting event for even the mightiest of college football programs.
And who can blame us? These days it seems as if there is hardly any enticement to go to an actual sporting event. Every spin move and one-handed grab gets made into a Vine and will almost certainly end up plastered across Twitter. Every Hail Mary pass for a win gets played on a constant loop on SportsCenter, and on Sundays you can use your NFL Redzone channel to pretend the 60 yards in between the 20-yard lines on a football field don’t exist. For all we know, the sorority sisters of Arizona had their phones out in the first place just waiting for the Diamondbacks’ highlights to pop up because as far as they’re concerned, that’s how sports are viewed.
Not only are we bad at the stadium, but even when we opt to watch games from our own couch, we can’t help but be absolutely atrocious fans. Based on a study by Google this year, 77 percent of Americans watch events ranging from the Super Bowl to the Oscars with a second screen in hand.
Besides making us seem like the pitiful humans from the movie “WALL-E,” having two screens on during a sporting event makes an Arizona sorority girl out of all of us. It’s as if we’re saying, “Why wait 10 to 15 plays for Adrian Peterson to break off a 70-yard touchdown run when instead I can just peruse the Internet for the highlights of other games and catch the replay after the roar of the crowd brings my eyes back to the TV from my Twitter timeline?”
I hate to play the role of the grumpy geezer who takes a stance against the combination of technology and social media because both are as likely to disappear in the near future as Donald Trump. But with regards to your sports-viewing health, it’s a deadly duo to be equated with the fast food of sports consumption: greasy instant gratification satisfying only in the short term.
Truly watching on just one screen or attending a game with (gasp!) your phone buried in your pocket allows you to be in the moment, embrace your fanhood and hang on dearly to the outcome of every play like the fans did 30 years ago. At the end of the day it’s a choice between a sitdown at Ruth’s Chris Steak House versus a trip to the McDonald’s drive through. Sure, for one of the meals you’re going to have to wait a little while longer, but it sure is worth it in order to get something real.
Jimmy McLaughlin is a sophomore in the College. Upon Further Review appears every other Tuesday.