A couple of weeks ago, on our trip to The Wedding that Wasn't, I realized something that made me sick to my stomach. We had booked our return flight to San Francisco during the three-hour span that the New England Patriots were playing. I have very few rules, but one of them is that when my favorite team plays roughly 16 games a year, it's worth planning your life around. Another of those rules is that sports are not the kind of thing that you can DVR. DVR is even an option for me as I don't have DirecTV and live in California. If I want to watch the game, I typically have to go to the sports bar. Sadly, sports bars that offer all NFL games via DirecTV are not part of Delta's in-flight service.
However, there is something that was part of Delta's in-flight service... wifi via Gogo. Gogo is available on a handful of airlines. It's similar to paying for Internet access at a hotel - for about $10 you get it on your flight. Their pricing is actually more complex depending on flight time and all that. I lucked out and Delta was letting people try it for free if you used a promo code.
With wifi available, I was back in the game. I was thinking about all the potential possibilities for how I can follow the game in real-time. I had my computer handy, so I do something like ESPN GameCast (or equivalent) and follow a simulated game. This is better than nothing, but reading, "Tom Brady pass to Moss for 12 yards" is very bland compared with watching it or even listening to it. That's good, but what about the battery on my laptop? It's only about 2 hours and a game goes 3.5 hours usually. My wife's computer was there too, but her battery is worse than mine... it would be cutting it very, very close.
Enter my Palm Pre. I remembered there was an NFL application that came with it. I looked into it and it offers real-time audio for all the teams. Patriots broadcasters Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti pumped into my ears at 30,000 feet? Are you kidding me? I can't be this lucky. It turns out that I can. My next thought was, "Damn, my Palm Pre is going to run out of battery streaming the radio over wifi." Enter my computer as a portable charger. With it in hibernation mode and my Palm Pre plugged into it, I had more than enough to not only cover the Patriots game, but also enough to root against the Jets. With the Pre's multitasking, I was able to keep three web browsers open and follow two of my favorite Patriots blogs (for injury reports and the like) and other scores from around the league.
You'll notice that I had quotes around "free" in the title. I obviously had to pay for my cell phone and Sprint's monthly fees. I lucked out by not having to pay for Gogo due to their promotion. I also lucked out in that Gogo was available on my plane. I hope they get their service on all airlines soon. Despite all this luck, I thought it was a worthwhile story to tell that might help a help a fellow sports fan at some point.
As a final side note the Jets fan next to my wife was able to watch the first half of his game on his computer because he had DirecTV at home. His battery wore out after that.
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