I am not fanatic about soccer, although it is the most important sport in my country. I became a soccer fan in 1965, when I was a little kid, not even a first-grader, and watched Inter Milan win what would have been its last Champions League until yesterday. After that, what looked like an invincible team entered a very long period of relative mediocrity, winning few Italian Leagues but never shining in Europe.
Of course I am happy that my favorite team won, but I am not one of those who went to downtown Milan to watch the game on megascreens with thousands of other people, nor did I wait for the team to return from Madrid (where the match was played) and raise the cup at 6 am today in front of 35,000 ecstatic (albeit sleepy) fans. Actually, as the rest of my family supports the other team from my city (Milan AC), I did not even watch the first 75 minutes of the match on TV (I recorded them on the Sky’s version of TiVo) but we watched together a movie on DVD, a tradition we have for when all the members of the family are at home on a Saturday evening.
When I watched the end of the game, I could not resist thinking about how much technology has progressed in the last 45 years. I have blurred memories of a 25 inch black and white TV screen, where only one channel was available (the public TV one), and players could not always wear their traditional blouses because colors would get confused on TV. One had to watch the match live, and there was no TV ad in between actions. images were blurred if compared to high-definition experiences today on a large LCD screen. The sound was squeaky if compared to the crispness of Dolby Digital today.
Also, we would cheer our team in our respective homes and maybe then go and celebrate in the streets, but there would not be thousands of parallel commentaries newspaper web sites, Facebook updates or Twitter streams. There were only the black and white official pictures on the newspaper the day after, and not hundreds of thousand of pictures taken by each soccer fan turned into a reporter with his or her cellphone. There were no large screens downtown for people who could not fly to where the final match was held to experience emotions as if they were at the stadium
So it looks like we have progress a lot and can now see and feel much more than before. A kid today can be in awe by looking at the incredible detail of a tear flowing through his favorite’s player cheek as he raises the trophy. Or he could jump onto Facebook and cheer with classmates and watch pictures posted by a friend who was lucky enough to be in Madrid.
But have we lost anything in the process? Were our emotions different and perhaps more intense when we could not see, hear and know everything instantly? For what I can remember, my imagination played a great role in fixing the 1965 victory in my memory forever. I could barely distinguish some of the players’ faces and there was no post-match series of live interviews. I did not know what the players were doing at every moment of that historical day.
So I imagined. The same way you imagine the characters in a book, the same way you connect the different parts of a story of which you are told only a few fragments. I am sure that every kid that day saw and remembered a different match, he imagined a different course of action, and imagined how his favorite player would spend the time straight after the match. And he would remember the goals from the single action (and one replay) he saw on TV, rather than watching them over and over again from multiple angles at the touch of a button. But those goals would remain as a myth in his mind, while today’s kids’ memories will be wiped out by millions of other events like this.
Maybe the very crispness of today’s information is what is killing its poetry.
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