Sports video game advances have long passed the advances in my brain

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 21, 2005


Think back to the first video sports game you played.

Maybe it was football for the Atari, or for the rich folks, an Intellivision. Remember ColecoVision? One of my Hungarian friends in New York had an Odyssey – to this day he is the only person I ever met with one of those.

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We had an Atari, but the first football game I remember playing was on my neighbor Tom’s computer. It was called Hi-Res Football and consisted of one team’s Xs and the other’s Os.

We, the coaches, would pick a play then watch as the Xs and Os danced across the screen.

A small dot acted as a football and darted across the screen as quarterback X completed a pass to tight end X.

For us, it was heaven.

Games evolved over the years and today what we have is almost as good as being on the field itself.

In my basketball world, the Texas Tech Red Raiders just completed a 23-10 season. We lost to Charlotte in the Sweet 16 on a last-second shot.

Throughout the season, though, the coach receives e-mails from recruits, the athletic director and the NCAA warning of sanctions.

Three weeks into the season, the athletic director wonders why I haven’t been recruiting. Of course, I couldn’t write back that I didn’t know I had to recruit players. I never recruited a superstar X in Hi-Res.

I received more information from alumni. “Dear coach, this player that you are recruiting is in the same class as my son. If you send me a T-shirt, I can steer him in your direction.”

The coach then has the option of sending him a T-shirt – which I did – or ignoring the request.

Uh oh. The NCAA has gotten word and sent the coach an e-mail as well: “Dear coach Sherrill, err, coach Murphy, we are keeping an eye on your program and we may be forced to levy sanctions.”

Sanctions? It’s a fun computer game. It’s almost impossible to actually play a game on the stupid machine because I am so worried about recruiting and keeping the NCAA off my back.

While trying to recruit, I ended up in the campus bookstore buying Air Jordans for the team and having dinner with powerful alumni.

The players have real faces and shoot jumpers with instant replays from four angles. Arenas are designed perfectly. Even the scoreboard hanging above the floor is correct.

Playing these games is almost enough to drive one crazy. I am so overwhelmed by the extras that I lose focus on actually playing.

The advances made in these games have surpassed the advances in my brain. Sometimes it makes me crave the days of Hi-Res with the powerful Xs against the overmatched Os.

But then again, I did just get a contract extension and landed the top point guard prospect in the state of Texas.

Now, if I can just keep him eligible.