He Sh*ts, He Scores! Pigeons Carry Sporting News

soccer before cheap oil photo

Image credit: Transition Culture/Peter Cross, and Ingrid Taylar (used under Creative Commons license.)

From farming with horses to the return of the scythe, many people concerned about peak oil are looking at traditional techniques and technologies in a new light. Whether you see this as pragmatic realism, or misguided nostalgia, will depend on your worldview—but it is often a fascinating insight into a world we've forgotten. Now Rob Hopkins over at Transition Culture has posted an awesome little trivia piece on how football (soccer) results were reported before the arrival of cheap oil and mass-telecommunications.Hopkins, who is a big football fan, notes with some amusement a photograph sent to him by reader Peter Cross, of his local pub football team back in 1911 that provides a tantalizing glimpse into football before oil. Apparently whenever the team affiliated with the Fox public house in Felpham near Bognor Regis travelled to away matches, they would have a novel way of relaying the results to the local press:

In front of the team is a football on top of a box. The box was used to transport a pigeon to away matches. According to Peter, at the end of the game the result was written on a small piece of paper and sent by pigeon to the Bognor Regis Observer. A strategy that Rio [Ferdinand] might like to adopt as he attempts to interest Man Utd in reducing their carbon footprint?

With the advent of the iPhone, I don't expect to see carrier pigeon reporting returning to the sports scene anytime soon. Nevertheless, like powering an entire house by bike, it is a useful reminder of how the jobs we do with clever gadgetry, precious resources, and buckets and buckets of fossil fuels often used to be accomplished (albeit slower) by ingenuity, hard work and/or careful interaction with the natural world.

I just wonder if the results of pigeon races were reported the same way.

More on Pre- and Post-Oil Technology
Farming with Horses Inspires a New Generation
The Return of the Scythe
When Low-Tech Beats Fancy Innovation: Ensuring Resilience

Related Content on Treehugger.com