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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Basic Biittner : Watching Sports

Friday, November 13, 2009

There are basically two ways in which sports enthusiasts can watch their favorite sporting activities. For most of you other than my colleague Mike, one of the ways is watching the contest on television.

There are many sizes of television screens on which you can choose to watch these days. You can select a teeny screen on a cell phone or other digital gadget; a slightly larger screen on your laptop or desktop computer; a small portable television set; a larger model - say 25", 27" on up to a 42 - 60" screen; or a really big screen TV like some sports bars have.

The other option is to view the game in person, and the main advantage of this setting is that it allows one to "soak up the atmosphere," as they say. Given a choice between these two options, I normally prefer the watch-at-home t.v. option, for several reasons.

Number one - Since this is, after all, northwest Iowa, chances are that the "weather" is more predictable and more comfortable at home.

Number two - no matter how good your seat may be at the game, there are so many cameras covering college and professional sporting events these days, you can definitely get a better view from your couch.

Number three - I definitely prefer the restroom facilities in my (or any of my friends) home to any I've ever seen in a stadium (or outside the stadium, if you know what I mean).

And, finally, number four - I just don't have attention span anymore to watch an entire game of any sport. In fact, one of the reasons I like watching Sportscenter is that you only watch the highlights - you don't have to see the entire game. In fact, I discovered years ago - and it's surprising how often my theory works - that the perfect time to tune in many sporting events is during the last 15 minutes or so (not "scoreboard clock" minutes, actual real-time minutes). If you do, you will often discover that the game is a "blow-out," and you haven't missed a thing, or it's a nail-biter and will go right to the wire, if not into overtime or extra innings. So you get to watch the most exciting, and meaningful, part of the game and you didn't waste 2 - 3 hours of your precious time.

I bring all this up because I had an interesting experience last weekend. We attended a college football game in Ames between the Cyclones and the Oklahoma State Cowboys and I realized that watching a major sporting event in person is now a time-consuming chore in itself. I'm speaking of the ever-increasing role which television plays in the world of sports.

The game Saturday was being televised by ABC and along with that came the dreaded "TV time out." Watching a game at home, I realize that there are frequent tv timeouts for commercial messages, public service announcements, movie or tv show previews, etc. But at home, I can go to the kitchen, bathroom, computer, read a book or magazine, etc. during these breaks. Of course you could do most of these things in the stadium too, but the food's more expensive, the restroom facilities are not as nice, and it's really kind of rude to start reading a book, open a laptop (if they're even allowed) or call or text someone on one's phone. So basically you're kind of stuck there. You could read your game program, but frankly it seemed to me that that was about 90% advertisements and a listing of the big donors to the University. The information I needed was confined to 4 pages - the rosters of the teams. There were photos of the home team, but none of the visitors. If the game you are at happens to be pretty non-competitive, as was Saturday's game, it can get kind of boring. I mean, I dearly love the people with whom I came, but my hearing is no longer such that I can hear much of what they are saying. Luckily, the weather Saturday was unseasonably warm - not hot, just pleasant - a nice day to hang out at a game. If the weather had been more typical of a November day, I think I would have been strongly encouraging the members of my group to head home early.

So there you have it - the grumbling of a true "fair weather fan" who apparently would only be happy at an exciting, back-and-forth game played in ideal weather conditions. All that said, I'd probably do it again in a flash - especially, of course, if the occasion was a baseball game at Yankee Stadium.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner