April 16, 2008

Sports debate: TV vs. Live

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Golf, Ice Hockey

Having recently attended a major league baseball game, a thought came to mind: Is baseball the only sport where it might be beneficial to stay at home rather than go out to the ballpark? Out of the big North American leagues , it probably i,s which is a sad statement for a great sport.

Let’s break down the sports that make up the front pages of your daily sports section — with one omission: Golf. But I’ll get to that later. Also, I’m judging by my own experience having watched games from reasonable, affordable seats, not the MSG Spike Lee court-side special.

Football: There is nothing better than seeing a game of NFL football live. The experience of watching the game unfold combined with the elements of being outdoors and the “socially lubricated” fans that surround you make football the best sport there to get out to. This is probably the reason why nearly every game sells out, regardless of where you are. How do you know it’s sold out? Because if it isn’t, you can’t even watch it on television because it will be blacked out in the area.

A game at the stadium even has most of the benefits that television would provide (replays, out-of-town updates) as well as eliminating potentially annoying commentary. And if you want commentary, bring along a radio.

Basketball: A great arena sport to watch live. Especially when the stars come out to shine. Watching Kobe Bryant play anywhere is a treat and worth more than the price of admission. Again, you lose out on annoying commentators and still have updates on televisions around the arena. But the big gain is that instead of commercials during TV timeouts, you get cheerleaders or a chance to grab another beer.

Hockey: Pretty much the same benefits as basketball, but colder. While rinks are kept at a reasonable temperature, it can get chilly for those not used to it. The NHL is fast-paced enough to be more entertaining live but is also viable to watch on TV (especially in hi-definition if you have it). The biggest benefit of watching hockey live is the lack of commentators. The NHL somehow managed to employ the worst commentators out of all sports. Watching a hockey game while listening to the commentators will, most of the time, amount to being bashed with over-the-top homerism, severely slanted points of view, people yelling points for no good reason and former players or coaches talking who are about as smart as the pucks they had played with.

Baseball: I’m a huge fan of baseball and avid supporter of the game, but even I got bored when at the game last week. This wasn’t a snoozer either with a 9-7 score and several dingers. But sometimes a guy has to change the channel and sometimes a guy has to drink past the 7th inning (cut off time at most stadiums). On television, you get a better view of the field and a superior view of pitches. There is no way you can get a better angle at a pitcher’s delivery or the ball coming in than on TV. That is, unless you’re one of those goofs who bring binoculars and a glove to the game when you’re 45-years-old.

As for the fringe sports:

Autos: If you’re a fan of racing — I’m not — you’re going to enjoy cars going around in a circle (NASCAR) and also get to see the wrecks first-hand. But all that noise and a good view of only a portion of the track does not sound appealing to this sports fan. When I do watch races, I like to know the information I gain from TV.

Lacrosse: Nearly a combination of UFC and Hockey. Watching guys pummel each other is a great way to spend a night if you’re in a city with a NLL franchise.

Golf: Has to be the worst spectator I can think of. Watching guys either tee off or putt will not draw a casual fan. That casual fan would more than likely rather be playing 18 holes than watching an event on his day off.


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