In spring my thoughts turn to the”Boys of Summer” (it was Babe Ruth who said”this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth”), that time when daylight lengthens, when school gives way to the competition of baseball and the eternal imagination of youths self-identifying with sports heroes. The smell of fresh-mowed sod, the sharp crack of a fastball meeting a Louisville slugger, and the exhilarating fear and unrestrained joy of taking off for first — emotions as fresh today as they were decades ago. These are memories etched in the”YouTube” of our brains, retrieved, sometimes, just by a chance conversation or the smell of a hotdog slathered in deli mustard and sauerkraut.On May 7 we celebrate the launch of the Sports Museum of America (SMA), www.sportsmuseum.com, the first museum dedicated to just about every sport played in America. The SMA has partnered with more than 50 sport organizations’ Halls of Fame, national governing bodies and other top athletic associations to showcase exhibits, memorabilia, stories and heroes that resonate with all of us. Partnering with the museum’s founders and all-star roster of directors (from too many different sports to list here), Cisco is providing a range of visual networking and emerging technologies to build a human network within the museum and online -as the web version never closes — converging technology and history to enhance the attendee experience.Even if you grew up playing soccer in Spain, cricket in Pakistan, or gymnastics in the Ukraine, the SMA invokes the personal passion of watching your team win a close contest or the heated exertion of an argument over a judge’s disputed call. In seeing the physical artifacts and video assets of the SMA, there are countless”do you remember?” moments. Thus sports fit visual networking like a hand in a well-worn mitt. There is compelling visceral appeal in seeing and hearing our heroes at play, at competition.To paraphrase baseball legend Lou Gehrig, I feel like the luckiest man in the world to attend the SMA opening, to be present at the beginning. As Gehrig softly and wisely said to over 50,000 dedicated and choked up fans as retired from the New York Yankees over seven decades ago:
“œI have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?”
There are millions of perfect moments in sports. All fans want to get closer to these perfect moments, to touch a piece of history, to relive a moment of life through the experience of an athlete. And now through the innovation of Telepresence, fans will have real time visual communications with sports figures on an unparalleled scale, allowing heroes into the room many more times than travel schedules permit. Fans will experience how new digital kiosk technology and interactive video enhances their experience in the Stadium of the Future. As Grant Hill noted in a recent blog on the promise of interactive video:”If I were a fan, I always felt it would be neat to sit at a game but also watch it on a screen and hear, whether it’s a local television broadcast, national broadcast, or NBA TV, whoever talking about my team, talking about that game. Being able to rewind or scroll, watch a play that happened earlier in the game. All those different types of things I think the fans will get in the near future.”Whether it’s re-living the heads-up play of Bill Russell in the raucous old Boston Garden or an over the shoulder catch by Willie Mays (“œsay hey!”) or bending it like Pele, like Beckham, the fans will know it and experience it at the SMA.Although many would like technology to increase the span of our lives, digital video technology is doing something important as well: linking us to our youth, to those eternal moments we shared with parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers, friends and family. In his departing comments, Gehrig reminded us”When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing.” For in our youth, sports bring us both the thrill of competition and the power of collaboration and teamwork. In closing, I would recommend you experience the SMA — in person or online -with a parent or a child. In the immortal words of Babe Ruth, the Bambino himself:
“œYou’ve gotta start from way down [at] the bottom, when you’re six or seven years of age. You can’t wait until you’re fifteen or sixteen. You gotta let it grow up with you.”
You can visit the Sports Museum in person starting tomorrow May 7 at 26 Broadway in New York, New York…or online at Sports Museum of America.