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Posted: January 8, 2013 8:10 p.m.

Social media in sports, good or bad?

Whether we like it or not, social media is a huge part of society.

This seems to be especially prevalent in the world of sports. It's a good tool to spread scores, injury updates, trade rumors, etc. However, it could also be what I consider a detriment as people get into Twitter arguments in front of thousands of readers or post demeaning pictures.

The last few days, I have experienced all of these thoughts through the world of Facebook, Twitter and all that is spawned off it, and I feel exactly the same way toward it.

Despite my editor's suggestions, I have still not gotten on board with either Facebook or Twitter, with the exception of The Covington News accounts, but I'm not living in a vacuum so I got plenty of involvement with it over the past couple of days. At first, it was leading me to get further away from all the technological interaction, but as of late I can see the benefits.

For college football's BCS National Championship Game, my wife and I ventured into a bar to watch what we hoped was Notre Dame's first title since 1988, but instead turned out to a Crimson Tide stampede. The first place was packed with Crimson Tide fans, and as a born and raised Catholic, that wouldn't do for this particular championship game, so we moved on to the next - an Irish pub.

While there, the Crimson Tide took the lead and never let it go. Since Alabama winning was predicted, it was what was happening away from the game that I thought was out of the ordinary. Everyone was on their phones.

I asked my wife what was the attraction on her phone and she said she was searching Facebook to see what people were saying about the game.

This caught me as odd.

I remember when you used to go to a sports bar to be around other people who were watching the game. Now at a sports bar, you go online to watch the game with other people?

My first thought was, "It has happened - real humans have been replaced."

I'm OK with email replacing letters, Scoutmob replacing coupons and am even coming to grips with books made of paper being replaced by books made of kilobytes. But the Internet and technology replacing sports bars - you have gone too far, sir, too far indeed.

Whether you drink or not, the sports bar is an American institution. In Paris, you can go to museums to be surrounded by French culture; in Ireland, you go to pubs to get a sense of the great Irish writers of both today and yesterday; and in the U.S., sports bars are where we go to share, joy, tears, heart break and jubilation to build camaraderie, community and companionship.

Well, apparently not any more. These days, everyone wants to brew their own beer. No need to check the local tap. Everyone has a Facebook page with thousands of fans, so no need to meet dozens in person when thousands are there virtually.

It's a sad state. The social media world got sadder when I realized what everyone was doing on Twitter throughout the Notre Dame-Alabama game: talking about A.J. McCarron's girlfriend (which by the way was still trending Tuesday).

Really communicating with others has gotten to the point where the most talked about topic is a quarterback's girlfriend? Do we really want to make it easier for people to communicate with one another if this is what they're communicating about? I personally don't think so but that's where things are.

But I now believe social media isn't all gloom and doom. It has proven for good as well.

When Newton's Tyler Head was severely injured on the wrestling mat, no one knew what would become of his health.

Still, the predictions are varied, but his friends, fans and family can now know.

His family has set up a Facebook page on Tyler Head Updates and Twitter as #PrayingForTylerHead, in which people have reached out and are spreading the word throughout the digital world.

To me, that's a huge benefit of social media, spreading hope and good tidings. Spreading news and forming a place where people can comfort and support each other.

So after the stupid back-and-forth of Alabama's and Georgia's quarterbacks concerning McCarron's girlfriend played out in front of strangers, social media redeems itself to me.

Maybe 2013 will be the year I get "connected."

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