4 min read

Snapchatting from Rio

on sports, community, connection and Snapchat deals.
Snapchatting from Rio
Photo by Derrick Payton / Unsplash

Rowan sent met this message yesterday...

Which was in relation to this tweet I sent to him during the Masters.

@rowansimpson Also, realised during this tournament that Vine should do a commercial deal to become highlights platform for the PGA.April 11, 2016

I have an old Winston McCarthy LP, with his rugby commentary, and I was thinking of that recording, and the stories told by masters like him, in that time, on what sport was. And reflecting on the social and community nature of sport then. And now.


I think the social nature of sport still continues in New Zealand, you see that every Saturday morning as kids roll out across the country to drag parents out the door to rugby fields, netball courts, football pitches, boat sheds, and any number of shared sporting activities.

But the scale and the nature of how we share sport has changed dramatically. And by extension the nature of sport, and how we visualise, understand and connect with it has as well.

This for example was the pub back in May 2014, when Arsenal won the FA Cup. Admittedly it was 10am, and it is New Zealand, and it's 'only' Arsenal -  but still it seemed an odd way to be partaking in  a major sporting event. I mean, it was just Rowan and I, and possibly anyone who was following us on Twitter at the time.

I'm still more likely to follow Arsenal via reports on Arseblog and Twitter people than I am via broadcast TV. And those methods are really engaging.

It's the same with NBA and the NFL, in which I follow the Lakers and Washington respectively. Yes, I know, feel free to snort at my choice of sporting franchises. But I chose them in my teens, and after twenty years of doing so, I'm OK with those choices.

These days most of my updates come via SB Nation or ESPN or Youtube. Or I'll catchup on the visual aspects of sports around the world, as they happen by viewing highlights via animated gifs or just Moleman on Vine.


Sometimes i's possible to just scroll through Youtube to find showreels that more often than not will have Arabic or Russian voiceovers.

Premier League Pass, NFL Game Pass, MLB TV have all allowed us greater choice. We now have the power and ability to follow just our team, with coaching reels and indepth analysis or if we have the time, to follow the entire league.

And so in our shared conversations, we catch up over highlights, with our version of the event, instead of just to enjoy the game or event itself - live and with all of its immediate ebb and flow.

In our data driven world, we only want to know the scores and the differential to see how our fantasy picks went.

The design of competitions like this year's Super Rugby tournament doesn't help. As pointed out on Sportsfreak, it's all a bit of a dogs breakfast. Which makes it difficult to get invested as a fan, fanatic or casual, let alone ensure that stadiums are filled.

It's as if because we have the ability to be so bite-sized, so individualised, that our ability to watch sports live and long-form in shared ways, has been dissolved.

On the flipside, we're getting great analysis and long-form writing about sports on sites like The Spinoff, Victory Journal and alas, the now archived (but still excellent) Grantland.

Bill Simmons Podcast (Soundcloud) has been rebooted since leaving ESPN and the range of conversations and voices he showcases continues to be interesting and challenging.

As of 2021 it's all up on Spotify:

Ultimately technology is part of that dissipation of our shared community identity - and it's also creating newer communities, in different spaces.

Communities and how we identify with them in real life are also evolving. People change, have kids, have less time to devote to a team, but we are still watching and engaging in sports in many different ways.

It's neither good or bad - it's what it is.

Maybe that's the point - our communities are so disparate now, as individuals we've got so many choices - that NBC signing a deal with Snapchat is just an reflection of that same human disparity.

We no longer lay down our weapons to honour the Olympic ideals, and it's just easier to Instagram the ideals to those who are on Facebook.

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Continue by Tim Kong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.