I’ve got to applaud the NFL for coming around to modern day and making the gameday experience even more complete – there are finally discussions about having free wifi access in all the stadiums. FINALLY! If you’ve been to the Superdome even once, you know what I’m talking about. Hearing a phone call, if it even gets through, is pretty much impossible. Problem is, text messaging doesn’t really work either. So no problem, right? You’ve got a smartphone. So you can use your wifi to check out the latest on your twitter app and maybe send the person you’re trying to reach a direct message? Nope. And by the way, you can’t even you 3G, 4G or whatever technology in there because you’re not picking up anything from your seat. The bottom line is your smartphone is basically useless around the stadium before gametime, and utterly useless once you enter it. I will admit, in some ways that’s a blessing.
Still, being able to access injury reports, stats, fantasy updates and other game scores in real time will give the live in stadium game the same luxuries you currently have at home. That’s the only disconnect, in my opinion, that arguably makes the in home experience almost more enjoyable…
Sure, you’re a diehard Saints fan and the Saints game matters most while it’s on… BUT, you probably play in 2 to 5 fantasy leagues that you like to keep tabs on during commerical breaks, and you like checking twitter to see what Jeff Duncan has to say about Jermon Bushrod’s ankle since he left the game (just a fictional random example). I remember being at the stadium last year when the Saints blew out the Panthers in the season finale, and I remember how frustrating dealing with a poorly working phone in game was. If you’ll remember, the Saints were playing for the 2nd overall seed in the NFC, and they needed a win coupled with a San Francisco loss to get it. With the Saints game easily in the bag early in the 3rd quarter, my attention turned to the slow and out of date scoreboard that updated with a 49ers score every 20 minutes if we were lucky. My inability to keep up with a game that was crucial to the Saints’ postseason destiny was incredibly maddening, and I almost found myself wishing I was at home rooting for the St. Louis Rams (the 49ers opponent that day) instead of the Saints – who had already blown out the Panthers and had a win in the bag. I basically sat through the Saints game, which was fun, and had to wait till I got in the car to get updates on the 49ers game via WWL 870am.
I also do live in-game tweets from my Saints twitter account when I’m at home, which some of you reading this have probably enjoyed, and I’ve have to go almost entirely dark when I’m at the game. The ability to give fans a different persepective of what I’m experiencing while at the stadium, full with picture updates in real time via twitter/facebook, is a really exciting prospect. The bottom line is with all the new modern technology in this day and age: DirecTV Sunday Ticket, Red Zone Channels, Fantasy Football, up to the second real time NFL updates from twitter pundits, etc… the NFL experience at home is almost better than in person. At the very least, if you still insist there is no substitute for being there in person, you have to admit the gap which used to be so wide it had an abyss in between it has narrowed to mere centimeters. The news of free wifi hitting stadiums changes that, and once again allows the in game live experience to reign supreme.
Nice job, NFL, but now that you’ve identified this as a need, make it happen ASAP.