"Down three with under a minute to play, Scottie Pippen is fouled while driving to the basket by Larry Bird. Pippen makes the first, but misses the second. However, he atones for his miss at the other end by stealing the basketball back. The Bulls come up the floor, but Bird picks off Ron Harper's pass to Michael Jordan, and is immediately fouled by Pippen. Larry Legend makes both free throws to ice the game, and the Celtics send the Garden faithful home happy with a 92-87 win."
Bird and Pippen? Garden faithful?
What era is this? Have you seen a Celtics-Bulls game lately? (*shudder*)
Well, why live in the present when you can time travel and live in the past? At least that's what sports simulation company WhatIfSports.com offers: a chance, as they put it on their site, to "settle the age-old question, 'What if…?'".
In this case, what if the 1985-86 Celtics hosted the 1995-96 Bulls at Boston Garden? The Hall of Fame frontcourt of Larry, McHale and Chief versus MJ, Pippen and the triangle offense — with Bill Walton and Dennis Rodman to boot … could you ask for any more fun?
In this case, the "fun" looked something like this:
|Pippen is fouled while shooting. Foul #2 on Larry Bird, team foul #2. Pippen makes the first FT and misses the second. Parish grabs the rebound||0:48||87 - 90|
|Pippen comes up with a steal.||0:25||87 - 90|
|Bird comes up with a steal.||0:08||87 - 90|
|Bird is fouled by Scottie Pippen on the floor. Foul #3 on Pippen, team foul #2. Bird makes the first FT and makes the second.||0:06||87 - 92|
|Longley loses it out of bounds.||0:00||87 - 92|
|End of 4th Quarter … 1995-96 Chicago: 87 1985-86 Boston: 92|
|VISITING TEAM: 1995-96 Chicago Bulls|
|HOME TEAM: 1985-86 Boston Celtics|
|* - denotes game starter
Player of the Game:
Larry Bird (1985-86 Boston Celtics)
Now this particular simulation won't make anyone forget about going to the arena for a night of hoops. But it's certainly been enough to get The Sports Guy all riled up. And who can blame him? In an era when tickets are grossly overpriced and most of the regular season games are a snoozer, isn't it more fun to sit at home with the fellas and play the "what if" game? If you don't think so now, wait until the technology gets a little better and we are really faking the funk.
Jean Baudrillard noted in Simulacra and Simulation that simulators "attempt to make the real, all of the real, coincide with their models of simulation." Isn't this true of sport simulators? WhatIfSports, Strat-O-Matic, EA Sports' titles, fantasy games and all other types of simulations run on one principle: the mathematical manipulation of numerical information. How do athletes get more adulation, a higher paycheck, or their photo on the cover of a sports videogame? Simple: they "put up numbers".
Understand this, professional athletes: like your colleagues in the music and film industries, your work is moving further upstream in the production process, as digital artists refine your athletic contribution into ever more complex media spectacles. Someday, your contributions may become irrelevant — if so, the economics of post-industrial society will have had a great deal to do with it.