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The experience of watching college football is altered considerably when using a double-screen setup to watch the game on one hand, and talk about it on the other.

It used to be one would simply jump up from the couch and yell affirmations or hurl curses. Today, we express our emotions as fans on Twitter, the closest thing we have to a real-time coversational platform on the web.

Sports writers take part in it:

Bloggers take part on it:

Fans take part in it:

I think it is fair to ask, does the Tweeting make for a richer college football viewing experience, or is it a digital distraction that we’d be better off without?

During today’s game, Nebraska came out running the I-formation, slashing and gashing for ground yards. I was happy and I was stunned. I hadn’t seen this team–our team, the real Nebraska–for many years. Sadly, the vision did not last. It slipped away in what seemed like an instant and the madness on Twitter got loud fast. I decided to put the second screen away and watch the game.

Of course, there’s also the post-game commentary to consider and take part in.

I wonder how many college programs are using social listening software to judge fan/consumer sentiment about the players, coaches and program. We don’t need to guess at the sentiment of fans or customers. Their support, love for the program and alternatively, their disbelief and disgust with it, is all neatly cataloged in the database for data scientists and marketers to mine.

Another thing worth noting about these game day “conversations” on Twitter: Good luck trying to engage with Bo Pelini, the NU athletic department or even the journalists on the Huskers beat. All of the above clearly approach Twitter as a broadcast channel, and they don’t want to get entangled in the complexities of managing fan anger or opinion of any kind. As a result, they ignore 99% of all @replies, which makes no sense within the context of Twitter itself, but plenty of sense when you realize how access in college sports is a privilege—one that Bo Pelini has been keen on revoking. His team’s practices are closed to the press, for instance.

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Digital culture, Nebraska, Sports