For the uninitiated, time shifting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_shifting is basically a fancy name for recording TV shows to watch later. This is not an alien concept to most as pretty much everyone has owned a VCR and taped a show for later viewing. But what might seem a little bit more unusual is the
practice of "Extreme Time Shifting" which I have adopted based on living in virtual deserts in Europe and now North America.
First, my European experience which I gradually adopted over the course of 5 years living in France. While living there I had the opportunity to watch Handball and other European sports, but I still couldn’t break away entirely from American Football and Basketball (NBA and College). Through Satellite TV my American sports were available, but due to the 6 hour time difference the live broadcasts were often on at inconvenient times. While the idea of watching an episode of Seinfeld two days later was one I was used to, the idea of watching a sporting event after the fact was a little alien to me. Mostly, this was due to the fact that if I didn’t watch the game live, I was sure to find out the score from either the radio, the internet or someone talking around the water cooler the next day at work.
I eventually came to the realization, however, that I was now living in an environment where almost every media outlet and person I interacted with could care less about the NFL and the NBA. In other words, I was in almost total control of finding out the final score or not. I say almost, because staying oblivious of Super Bowl results was a challenge and Tony Parker’s progression as an NBA star resulted in one French colleague ruining a 7th and deciding playoff game for me with the statement of "too bad for Tony Parker, eh John?" But besides, these small setbacks, I really warmed to the convenience of watching whenever I wanted to. On top of that it’s very easy to get used to never watching commercials or free throws. A 2.5 hr NBA marathon game can be watched in less than an hour through fast forwarding.
Now that I’m living back in the U.S., where I can watch games live, I still find myself time shifting for reasons of convenience. With American sports, this time shifting is usually for only a few hours though. Basically, I’m simply waiting for quiet time after my daughters have gone to bed. Radio and simple interaction at work makes it fairly challenging to remain oblivious to the final score for American sports the next day. But now that I am living in an American desert, figuratively and literally, it’s entirely different story for my favorite European Sports. Hence the concept of Extreme Time Shifting.
In the dog days of July, your sport choices might be limited to watching golf, baseball or the paint dry. I, on the other hand have been reveling in the European Club Rugby finals, International Tests and the Tri-Nations. Never mind that some of these competitions weren’t viewed until a month after they were played, I’m an extreme time shifter. Because Rugby has little following here, the chances of somebody letting the cat out of the bag on the London Wasps – Leicester Final in the English Premiership are astronomically low. Where possible, I’ve also done the same thing with Handball matches web streamed on the computer. I say where possible, because some websites have put the final score next to the "play" button. This poor web design has resulted in me playing a silly game with a sheet of paper in front of the monitor screen hoping that I can find the play button without seeing the score first. (Note: if you purposely defocus your eyes so that you can’t read text, it will improve your chances of winning this game). Other sites, notably the German Bundesliga (HBL), have enough sense to never list the score.
So what’s the point of this article you might ask? Well, the point is that the Olympics with its schedule of 84 matches crammed into 16 days will hopefully present a great opportunity for you to try extreme time shifting. With Beijing being 6 hours ahead of Western Europe and 12 hours ahead of the Eastern United States much of the world will be busy at their day jobs while the matches are being played. Theoretically, fans will then be able to watch their favorite team or perhaps the best match of the day at their leisure during the evening. I say theoretically, because it’s not certain yet as to how NBC will deliver their online content. I’ve had some running dialogue with the NBC staff and they’ve indicated that some matches and highlights will be available on demand. (Whether "some matches" means 2 or 72 remains to be seen) Additionally, they indicate that the website will report on events as they happen, which could very well mean that when you pull up the NBC Handball webpage you could be greeted with a headline like “Brazil shocks Russia.”
To counteract this possibility during the Olympics, Team Handball News will be hiding results and event details behind generic titles like, “Match Day 1 Results.” And, depending on how NBC sets up their video on demand we will try to provide generic links to the streaming content as well. Also, if there are multiple viewing options, we might even suggest “A Match of the Day” to watch without saying why. That way you can truly be surprised when Brazil upsets Russia. And, who knows, if you really want to try extreme time shifting, maybe you’ll even end up watching the Gold Medal Games in October.