I am continually amazed by the things we can do thanks to technology. I am not going to get into whether our world is better because of it or whether we have become so dependent upon it that it would be hard to function without it. I came from the era where it costs money to make a long distance phone call. I remember the phone company using the slogan “Long Distance is the Next Best Thing to Being There.” It rings true, but it has long been surpassed by innovations that weren’t even a twinkle in an innovator’s eye at the time.
While the column has my picture on it, I really don’t like to use the space with “I” and “me,” occasionally, “we,” but this time is going to be an exception. For the first time in nearly two years, I wasn’t able to attend a Bartow High School football game. My work called me away to Effingham, Ill. It’s OK if you have never heard of it.
The timing was terrible. Bartow was (and is) undefeated. They were going on the road for the first time and playing a team they should have beaten last year. The starting quarterback was injured. The story angles were all over the board, but I was in Illinois. How am I going to stay connected? I could call somebody who went to the game, but that would cut into their own enjoyment as they explained what was going on and they might miss something or not hear the phone ring. It was time to call on the professionals.
Using the free Internet connection at the hotel, I let my computer do the work and the wonders of technology didn’t let me down. I went to www.wwbf.com, hit the “On Air” button and suddenly, I right there in the press box and on the sidelines at Lake Region’s home field.
My mind’s eye now had a point of reference. Even though I have never been to this place (having missed the last time Bartow played there in 2010), I could see Jeff Thornburg and Bruce Edmund discussing the pre-game matters. I listened as sideline reporter David Thornburg chimed in with his views. I nodded in agreement as Bruce brought up the troubles in faraway lands and how fortunate we are to be Americans. I regaled when we won a coin toss and put the defense on the field to start the game and even moreso when the defense opened the scoring.
Throughout the evening, nearly 900 miles away, I was connected to the game by the radio through the computer. Being in the Central Time Zone meant it started at 6 p.m. and well-meaning friends would stop by and ask me to go to dinner, but I wasn’t leaving that computer. I was going to drink in the experience. In full disclosure, I did get hungry with a minute left and Bartow leading 30-10. I told my wife about the game and reported the score as 30-10, only to find out the next day that I missed a touchdown that happened with 30 seconds to play. If I had been patient, I wouldn’t have missed it. My rental car didn’t have the ability to pick up the station in the conventional way, so I was out of luck. I did hear some of the Effingham versus Charleston game that happening mere blocks from my hotel, but it held no interest. Effingham, which is called the Flaming Hearts, lost to Charleston 46-7. Effingham gives up more than 40 points per game and is 0-4. I’m not sure I would listen to their games if I could.
When Friday rolls around and Fort Meade rolls into town, I’m be thrilled to be back there to see the action, but much more prepared, thanks to Jeff, Bruce and David. Let’s go Jackets.
In addition to the Friday football action, this is a jam-packed week for most of the other sports in season as these student athletes are providing good competition. The volleyball team will be in action tonight against Lake Gibson. They take on Lakeland tomorrow with both matches in Bartow. The swimming and diving teams meet up a host of county schools at a Lakeland hosted meet on Thursday. Other Thursday action sees the JV football team home against Haines City, cross country is running at Ridge, the boys golf team is hosting Winter Haven and the girls golf team plays Lakeland Christian at Cleveland Heights. Next Monday (Sept. 24), the girls golf team and volleyball team have away matches. Volleyball, girls golf and boys golf are scheduled for Tuesday (Sept. 25).