Truth is, Flappy Bird is a sport

By Ruben Palacios/Sports Director

A sport requires skills and is of competitive nature.

Flappy Bird is clearly a sport.

The critically acclaimed smartphone game is just as challenging to a new user than basketball is to someone who’s never played it before.

The objective in Flappy Bird is to guide a flying bird, which continuously moves to the right, between oncoming pipes without making contact with them. The bird flaps upwards every time the user taps on the screen, and users are scored based upon how many set of pipes they successfully maneuver through.

Flappy Bird requires you to be competitive, that’s why it’s so addictive. Users, like myself, get caught up trying to break our previous high scores and rarely get satisfied, even if we do top our previous mark.

Like any sports to which you are committed, you build this desire to keep getting better at it. Flappy Bird, as corny as it might sound, brought me back to my high school basketball days. I wasn’t good right away, it took a lot of time for me to develop into a good player. I went from warming up the bench my first varsity year, to being a co-captain and the starting shooting guard. Throughout my first go-rounds with Flappy Bird, I couldn’t break into double-digit points. I was stuck with a high-score of eight for a really, really long time.

But, I got better with repetition.

Practice, like my basketball coaches use to tell me, makes perfect. With hours upon hours of play, my scores continued to rise. No longer was I stuck in single-digits. But, I still wasn’t any good. I wasn’t as good as I needed to be to satisfy my beyond competitive nature.

So, I kept playing the game. I told myself I would get better and I did. And I had to improve, because I had some competition. My girlfriend, who first convinced me to try the game out, had a head start playing and was ten times the player I was. Like in basketball, I couldn’t stand when someone was better than me so I kept at it and my scores continued to rise. At this point, my high score was in the mid-40s. Impressive to some, but just not enough for me.

My score was improving but I still felt as if there was something I could tweak that would take me over the hump.

I found just that. My coordination while playing needed to change. At first, I was playing while holding my phone in my right hand and tapping the screen with my thumb. That needed to change; it wasn’t a stable position and I would often lose because I’d lose control of the phone in my hand.

The solution was: holding the phone firmly with my left hand while still tapping the screen with the thumb on my right hand. Finally, my coordination was down and my high scores were falling left and right. I went from scores in the 50s to 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

After posting a 94, I was excited but more disappointed that I couldn’t break the century mark. Reaching 100 was my ultimate goal, once I reached that I would relieve myself of the Flappy Bird addiction.

Then it happened.

Soon after posting the 94, I would enter this zone. I got tunnel vision, it was just me and my phone, nothing else. This brought me back to my basketball days, too. Anyone who’s played ball before can tell you about getting into a zone and seeing the basket seemingly get bigger and bigger. I was in the zone and the little bird just kept flapping away. After about three consecutive minutes of flapping, my bird hit a pipe and died.

Game over, final score: 154.

About the Author

Ruben Palacios
is the Assistant News Director of FIU student media, a sports junkie and a sneaker enthusiast. Not necessarily in that order. Loves the L.A. Lakers and Oakland Raiders. In that order.

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