A huge component of my lifelong involvement in athletics has been via the video game. My favorites are of the basketball genre, the NCAA March Madness and NBA 2k series in particular. Unlike most sports gamers, I rarely actually play the game (5 on 5 that is). I find little personal merit in choosing a team and playing with the players given; sports games are much too repetitive for me in that respect. Instead, I gravitate toward the managerial aspects that many sports video games possess. In NCAA March Madness recruiting is my thing. There’s nothing more exhilarating than choosing a no-name program with a history of losing seasons (I was always drawn to Grambling State) and taking it to the Promised Land with persistent scouting and clever recruitment. In NBA 2k, ‘Dynasty’ is far and away the most thrilling feature. In this game mode the player takes complete control of the franchise from the general manager’s perspective; he/she is able to sign free agents, make trades, and draft new players to any team of choice. In essence, the entire team roster, thus the success of the organization as a whole is in the hands of the gamer.
This post isn’t meant to be a video game review, but a discourse on the interplay of several facets of athletics. Sure, players and coaches are front and center in the action, but there’s an extremely important behind-the-scenes component that is too often overlooked. While exercise and athletics are important even if you aren’t a top collegiate performer or a professional, many of us who are less gifted physically still have dreams of being involved in athletics at the highest level. The experiences I’ve had with sports video games have fueled my desire to pursue something related to sports management as a post-graduate. I can say with certainty that if I do end up in this field, whether it be as a high school athletic director or the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, my countless hours surveying the country for virtual talent will have played a major role in it.