You're a sports nut with a car phone and life is good

Mike Royko

April 21, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

Instant communications. It is one of the great miracles of our age. And it goes on making our lives richer and fuller.

One of the more recent developments:

You are driving along in your car. You have popped a tape or a CD into the sound system but the music isn't what you crave at that moment.

So you switch to the radio, using the gizmo that lets your radio scan from station to station until it finds the programming of your choice.

But that particular programming isn't there.

That's because you are looking for a sports fix. A score, a starting time, who's injured, who's traded, who's drafted, how many homers, what's the ERA, who's on first, what's on second? Something.

And there you are, trapped in your car in heavy traffic, desperately in need of a sports fix, but there isn't even one baseball game being broadcast or a sports talk show on your radio.

All you get are those brief and paltry news summaries of the scores of last night's games, which you, as a sports addict, already know about and are sick almost to death of hearing.

What a rotten, unfair situation. All that blather about news and weather and traffic. All that music, from heavy metal to golden oldies, and even some Beethoven. On public radio, the usual liberal babble about how the hole in the ozone is going to roast your head.

But not a word about what's important -- who is leading after the second round of the International Bolt & Worldwide Industrial Ovens Masters Invitational Open Classic in Ponta Punta, Fla.? Where are our priorities?

Who knows how many people find themselves in this agonizing situation every day? And how many have suffered such isolation over the years?

But it doesn't have to happen anymore. Not if you live in Chicago and other cities where a terrible void in our knowledge is being filled by high-tech.

No, all you have to do is reach down and pick up your car telephone -- another great leap forward -- and dial a number. Or punch one button, since it would be assumed that you have the number programmed for automatic dialing.

After a few rings, a voice comes on the phone and asks what your question is.

Maybe you say: "I have a sports trivia question. In the 1965 NFL draft, who were the Bears' first-round choices?"

The voice will ask you to hold on a moment, and then it returns with the correct answer.

Think of it. You are in your car and just by punching a button, you can get almost any sports trivia question answered.

Or maybe you aren't into trivia. Maybe you haven't had a chance to read the box scores that morning, but you have a desperate need to know how many points Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen scored in last night's late game.

Nothing to it. You punch the same number and just ask and the voice on the other end tells you how many points they scored. And if you want assists and total minutes played, that too. We live in such wonderful times.

Think of the millions of people who spent trillions of hours in their cars in this century.

Many of them not only didn't have air conditioning, automatic transmissions, power windows or an automatic garage-door opener, but they couldn't get instant info on who the starting pitchers were going to be in tonight's game.

Our forefathers had to be pretty tough to survive such deprivations.

Yes, there will be the usual cranks who will say that when a person is driving a car, he should just keep his eyes on the road and not be jawing into a telephone about who's on first and what's on second.

These are the anti-technology spoilsports who believe that car phones shouldn't exist in the first place, but as long as we have NTC them, they should be used only for urgent business or emergencies, not to find out who is leading the National League in stolen bases.

Well, there were those who jeered at the visionary who invented the automatic egg scrambler, too. (A magnificent device, incidentally. You poked a needle through the shell of a raw egg, pressed a button, the needle whirled for a few seconds, and when you cracked the egg, it was already scrambled. Isn't that amazing?)

And the grousers will say that it won't be long before some sports addict will receive some shocking news ("Who did they trade him for?") and not notice the bend in the road and will wrap his car, himself and his telephone around a light pole.

Maybe. But we all have to go sometime. And for the true sports addict, there are worse ways to check out than with those ancient words on his lips: "They should have got a pitcher."

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