ESPN, Sept. 24, 11:45 p.m. ET
This year, when we watched sports, we tweeted. We sat on the couch with a laptop open, and when things happened, we wrote funny or pained or outraged things about them. Often non-sports fans would get frustrated with the overwhelming quantity of sports-related tweets in their feed and would, in retaliation, tweet things about Anna Karenina. Or they’d just tweet “SPORTS!” and turn off their computers.
But when your kids have gone to bed and you’re way too tired to go to a bar to enjoy sports communally, Twitter is the best. Everyone is watching the same thing and we all have things to say. We even watch and mock commercials together! So when the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and my Green Bay Packers came down to the final play, I was watching and tweeting. And when that final play went insanely, stupidly haywire thanks to the total confusion of the replacement referees who’d been bedeviling NFL fans for three weeks already, I took great delight in the rage and hilarity in my feed, even as I bemoaned the actual result (a Packers loss).
The response to this single moment of football went far beyond the angry bettors screaming at bookmakers everywhere. Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang’s angry tweet about the play garnered almost 100,000 retweets, making it (maybe) the most-retweeted post ever (at least until Barack Obama broke his record a few weeks later). Most notably, the outcry over that one stupid play was the clear impetus for the NFL finally striking a deal and lifting the lockout less than two days later.
All that was yet to come, though. Right then, almost midnight, with my kids sleeping upstairs and my wife running down to see what I was screaming about, the end of that football game represented all that is awesome and stupid about sports. I cared a lot, despite everything. All those people on the TV cared a lot. My dad, texting me 26 times between 11:30 and midnight, cared a lot. And all those people on Twitter cared a lot, too.