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a big screen in a pub – the technological mountaintop for watching the football?

so ITV, with classic elegance and grace, managed to steal away the one moment of joy in a dismal World Cup viewing experience from those with the perseverance and faith to watch its HD service. Instead of seeing Gerrard slide the ball coolly into the USA net, they instead saw a bizarre sequence involving some Hyundais, a footpump and some fruit-related littering. poor sods.

obviously, this being a period of history when we collectively thirst for new ways to experience audiovisual entertainment, there are a lot of different ways to watch this World Cup. you can watch it online in splitscreen and inflict your half-baked analysis of Carragher’s speed on the turn on a wider public than would be able to hear you otherwise. you can go to the cinema and watch it in 3D (which if it takes off surely creates some kind of role for James Cameron as a football manager?)  I haven’t found it yet, but I’m sure out there somewhere someone is creating a sound-canceling technology that can remove the buzz of vuvezelas from the sounds feed. (Please.)

ludicrous as it sounds, I am going to leap in there and claim that there is no technology that could make the football watching experience better than a really big screen, with a decent sound system, in a decent pub. the picture quality could improve slightly, for sure. there could be better ways to order your drinks, for sure (there is nothing worse than waiting in a queue at the bar, facing away from the screen, as you queue for a round of drinks you will hardly be able to carry.) it could be easier to make sure all the people you want to meet end up in the same pub (and when a quorum of my friends have begun to get their heads around location-based technology, this may happen.)

but for the moment, a big screen and a pub is as good as it gets. because watching the football isn’t about watching the football. it is about getting the chance to stand in an empowering group of people, shouting and roaring in public, totally immersed in a drama that doesn’t matter but is nonetheless all consuming. and a set of goggles, or the perfect living room set up, or the need to interact and comment, can only get in the way of an experience which is already fulfllling in a totally unique way.

come on England.

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