September 06, 2012

"The At-Home Experience,": A Samsung 51-inch, plasma HD television and three top-grain leather theater seats delivered from Best Buy. Add in the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket Max package for $299.95, + $120.00 for food and beverages or 10 home games. You decide.

posted by BoKnows to football at 01:00 PM - 22 comments

If I had my druthers, I would rather attend the games instead of watching them from home. Even though the technology of presenting a game on TV is exponentially better than what it was even in the '80s and '90s, you still can't beat the atmosphere of actually being in the stadium. I say this even though my attendance at NFL games is limited to a handful of Panthers games during terrible seasons. Oh, and the Lions home opener in '84.

posted by NoMich at 01:48 PM on September 06, 2012

For special events (playoffs, Olympics, World Championships) I'd probably prefer attending live.

For regular season games, I don't think I'd own season tickets for any sport. I'd pay to go see the occasional game (NHL, MLB), but that would make them more special to me.

I don't have the super luxury setup in my house, but HDTV really was the giant leap forward for enjoying sports at home, and is the only strong reason I have cable.

Sports with intermittent action (baseball, football) are much better at home where the replays fill in information you might not have caught while watching live. (Of course, that only counts if you can tolerate the announcers.)

Constant action sports (hockey, soccer) I think work better live because you can see more of the field of play than what the TV limits you to. Watching a dynamic team like the Detroit Red Wings or the Spanish men's soccer team is much more entertaining when you can see all the moving pieces at the same time.

posted by grum@work at 01:57 PM on September 06, 2012

Everything grum said. With the possible exception of hockey, I can't get excited to attend a major pro sport. The game itself is fine, but the cost is really high regardless of the seats, you have to deal with the hoi polloi and getting in and out can be a challenge (e.g., you would need to pay me to go to Foxboro for a Pats' game: parking is $40 which does not include a sherpa for your hike to the stadium and getting out after the game can be hours in traffic).

posted by yerfatma at 02:24 PM on September 06, 2012

Here in Winterpeg I can buy a 50 inch HDTV for less than the cost of attending a single Jets game with 1 family member.

Don't get me wrong as I am a live sports junkie, but I don't have the bankroll of Warren Buffett to feed my habit. I watch sports on TV but find I don't get as involved and rarely watch an entire game from start to finish.

posted by cixelsyd at 02:44 PM on September 06, 2012

In my teens and twenties, I found it very easy to spring for a game - NHL, NFL, MLB, whatever. Dropping $150 wasn't too detrimental to my budget. But now, as a married man and father of two, that $150 easily gets to $250, at least. And I don't buy programs or souvenirs. We have to limit the food purchase choices and usually bring our own whenever we can. We sit in the upper decks and look for nights that do promotional giveaways or discounted tickets.

To me, it's far from easy for a family of four on a budget to afford that, often. Once or twice, maybe.

The at-home experience works great for us. There's not parking issues, no bathroom lines, no overpriced food or paraphernalia. No need for binoculars or trying to restrain an 18 month old confined to a shared seat. No worry of said 18 month old throwing popcorn in a stranger's hair! No drunks, no fights, no profanity (Well, maybe).

Don't get me wrong though, I love a live event. I'm a big Blues fan and have spent a lot of time at the old barn. If I could go, I would. And if the product that was being presented to me made it more possible, again I would.

But it's not, so Best Buy, here I come.

posted by BoKnows at 02:57 PM on September 06, 2012

There's always the mid-level option: the sports bar. Gets the sports-minded spouse out of the house and among like-minded comrades on gameday without a big outlay for grilling sundries and body paint. Shorter commute, too.

If you don't like the broadcast announcers, you can just ask everyone at the bar to talk a tad louder and you won't hear a thing coming from the TV's.

If you drink too much to drive home, you can just stay put until the game's over and the Trivia Night teams start filing in. One of them is bound to need a last minute roster addition. After a good cup of coffee and singlehandedly fucking up World Capitals, you're ready to hit the road.

posted by beaverboard at 03:12 PM on September 06, 2012

There's always the mid-level option: the sports bar.

Meh, tough to find a good one, at least around here. I am really liking the minor-league baseball experience in Portland, ME though. I've been to AAA games in Rochester, NY and Pawtucket, RI as well as AA in Manchester, NH, but Portland has been far and away the best experience. I think it might be a combination of good talent on the field and the fact we tend to go with friends. But at $8 for good seats and $5 to park a couple of blocks away, it's hard to complain.

posted by yerfatma at 03:31 PM on September 06, 2012

Right now I'm sitting about 6 feet in front of my 46" Samsung HiDef watching US Open Tennis (good match between Ferrer and Tipsarevich). I don't have a super sound system hooked up, but who needs it? The TV sound isn't bad, and with most of the major professional leagues, you are stuck with the drivel spewing forth from the announcers anyway. For most events, I like being exactly where I am right now, but of course there are exceptions.

I have purchased a full-season ticket plan for Boston Celtics games this season. My only other season ticket experience was in 1985-1986 when my then soon-to-be wife and I held seats for the Baltimore Skipjacks of the AHL. We enjoyed the camaraderie that being seated near the same people for every game can afford, and ice hockey is a game that is much better viewed in person. The reasons for the Celtics tickets are many. I've been a Celtics fan since the 1952-53 season, saw Bill Russell's first game in the Garden, and rejoiced when the Celtics won an NBA championship when people finally began to realize that the NBA was a "big deal". My son is also a basketball fan and he too loves the Celtics. My wife has never been to a Celtics game, and wanted the opportunity to do so. Having the season tickets gives me an opportunity to donate a game or 2 for various charity fund raisers. Finally, 2 good seats in the balcony were not as expensive as I had anticipated and came with some nice perks.

The question is, "Would I rather be in front of the TV or at the game?" For the most part, I think I'd rather be in front of the TV. yerfatma has it right when he speaks of the drawbacks to attending a patriots game at Gillette. Unlike an in town venue like TD Garden or Fenway Park, public transportation to Foxborough is limited. There is a train from Boston, but then you have the problem of getting to South Station, and for a Monday night game, by the time you get back to South Station, and have parked somewhere other than in downtown Boston, the MBTA has stopped running. Thus for Patriots games, the option is definitely TV, but son managed to pick up a pair of tickets for a Monday night game vs Houston, so against all logic, we'll go. My choice on baseball is easy. I will no longer go to Fenway Park until ownership shows me they can actually produce a decent on-the-field product without catering to the casual fan (translation: Pink Hat). The Red Sox aren't showing up on the TV very much lately either, whenever there is an alternative, which is most of the time. I'd love to get to more Bruins games, but their ticket prices are high and single game availability is limited. HiDef is the choice here, and Jack Edwards (Bruins' play-by-play announcer) can be worth the time taken to listen when he starts going over the top in his call.

There's one really good thing about watching sports on a HiDef set. The close-up shots of players reveal physical features you could never see from the grandstand. For example, did anyone ever notice that Maria Sharapova has a little bit of a blond mustache? It's just one more thing to like about her.

posted by Howard_T at 03:38 PM on September 06, 2012

Some of the best experiences I've had at NFL games is when I have gone really early to tailgate right outside the stadium with friends who own a very large motor home. I enjoy the fun and atmosphere of the pre-game, then instead of going into the stadium, some of us stay at the vehicle and watch the game on the large screen TV. Going in, battling the crowds, poor seats, and ridiculous prices for food and drink are often something I don't feel like dealing with. The experience outside the stadium is where it's at.

posted by dyams at 03:45 PM on September 06, 2012

Sports with intermittent action (baseball, football) are much better at home where the replays fill in information you might not have caught while watching live. (Of course, that only counts if you can tolerate the announcers.)

I disagree. As to baseball, at least you get to see what else is going on when you are in the stadium. TV gives you nothing. As to football, the constant replays just prevent you from knowing what is really going on and being a knowledgeable sports fan. How is the offense set up? Defense? Substitutions? We rarely get that information, which matters if you are more than a casual fan of the game. You get a quick second to see anything right before the ball is snapped if you are lucky. Radio does that better.

I haven't found a sport yet where at home is better, but the costs are such that I can make do at home.

posted by bperk at 03:48 PM on September 06, 2012

I am really liking the minor-league baseball experience

Me, too. We have a AAA team here in Reno, and I can get the family (wife + 1 teenager) to a game with good seats for $20 per person. Dinner and a brew before the game runs $40, eliminating the need for $7 beers at the game. All in, it's less than $100 for three of us to spend four or five hours together.

That being said, a buddy of mine has box seats on the 50 at Paul Brown Stadium and a 50 foot motorcoach for tailgating pregame. Underground parking passes are part of the package, and all of the drinks and food are on the boxholder's tab. Sometimes, I even get to watch the first half from the sidelines. For the low, low price of $0 (+ plane tickets back to Cincinnati), a family of three can enjoy a game in style. Oh yeah, and there's a 50" plasma on the wall of the box. Oh, to be one of the 1%.

posted by tahoemoj at 05:09 PM on September 06, 2012

Some things simply can't be experienced live in person at the stadium.

If you're a fan sitting in your seat and you get a sudden broadcast producer's urge to run down onto the sideline and jam your face as close as possible to a cheerleader's cleavage while dodging the thrusting pom poms or stare up their skirt as they're being boosted into the air right before a commercial break, you are gonna be out of luck.

posted by beaverboard at 05:48 PM on September 06, 2012

I love live hockey, especially playoff hockey. Prices are the problem. Five years ago I could have afforded to go to ten regular season games and a couple of playoff games in Nashville but not anymore. Now I just save my money for really good seats to one regular season and one playoff game. I will give Nashville credit though, getting in and out of the city and finding decent parking has never been a problem for me, at least for hockey.

I have never been to a live NFL game so I have nothing for comparison. I just imagine that huge field and needing binoculars to see all the action. I'm going to a charity auction this Saturday though and I here one of the items for bid is two tickets for Jets @ Titans, so maybe that will change. A coworker has already informed me that traffic is a pain for football games but tipped me off to mall outside of the city where you can park for free and take a bus downtown.

posted by MrFrisby at 07:11 PM on September 06, 2012

I love live hockey, especially playoff hockey.

What is this "playoff hockey" you speak of?

/sad Leafs fan

There was one sporting event that I will definitely do again live that was much better than watching on TV: early round March Madness. I thought that missing out on the constant TV flipping back and forth between games would be tough, but actually going to two days of games with my dad was a blast. I'm looking forward to purchasing the 2013 tickets when they go on sale.

posted by grum@work at 09:10 PM on September 06, 2012

Sports bars and trivia nights...

If my Dad hadn't passed away nearly three decades ago, I'd be on the phone right now asking him if I had a missing American half brother who goes by the name "beaverboard".

posted by owlhouse at 09:13 PM on September 06, 2012

A quick breakdown of sports I've seen live:

NFL - it's fun when the team is winning. It's terrifying when the team loses (Buffalo) and the drunks get angry. I'll take TV.

NHL - it's been 12 years since I've been to a game, but I love(d) going to games. I can't afford Leaf games any more, but I'll try for a Red Wings game next season. I'll take live over TV.

MLB - Depending on the ballpark it's either okay (Blue Jays) or awesome (Red Sox, Yankees) or a little bit scary (old Tiger Stadium). It's a toss-up against TV.

NBA - Since I'm not a huge fan (and the closest team to me sucks), I'll take TV. At least then I don't have to be constantly bombarded with noise like when I went to a Raptors game a few years ago. It's like they assume everyone has ADHD and has to be constantly introduced to a new sound every 3 seconds.

NCAA basketball - See March Madness.

NCAA football - I've been to one game at Michigan, and it was a ton of fun to sit in the crowd. College fans are always having a good time, and with the lack of beer sales, the drunks are kept to a minimum. I think I'd rather see it live than on TV.

Minor league baseball - The old AAA Ottawa Lynx and defunct CBL London Monarchs are all I've seen. The quality of the AAA game was good enough to keep me entertained, but the sub-A quality of the CBL was hard to keep interest in. Since it's not on TV, it's hard to compare.

Minor league hockey - Back when they were the Toronto Roadrunners, I saw a game. Meh. Again, it's virtually never on TV, so I can't compare.

Junior hockey - Watching those kids play in London is amazing. You can spot the ones that are destined for the NHL, and the crowd is very much like an NCAA football crowd. It's much better than TV.

European football - Hands down, it's better live. It's not even close.

Tennis - TV over live, but then it's been 25 years since I saw live professional tennis.

posted by grum@work at 09:29 PM on September 06, 2012

College fans are always having a good time, and with the lack of beer sales, the drunks are kept to a minimum.

I guess that depends where you are. I have season tickets to the University of Nevada Wolfpack here in Reno, and the beer flows plentiful at MacKay Stadium. Tailgating for a 4 p.m. game gets going around 10 a.m., and people are plenty lubricated come game time. I'm even surprised at how many $7 beers the college students can afford. We sit right next to the general admission section, and surprisingly, we've never seen a fight. Maybe it's the nature of WAC/Mountain West Conference football that most of the rivalries are fairly new and almost good natured. Except, of course, Nevada/UNLV, but they double down on security for that one. Good lord, does Nevada love a drunk.

posted by tahoemoj at 11:20 AM on September 07, 2012

I will watch hockey or soccer live but anything else you can keep the tickets. I've never been comfortable in big crowds but more so as the years have gone on and I really have to want to see the game (or concert, for that matter) to suffer all the negatives of crowds.

Heck, when we saw the Liverpool-Roma friendly at Fenway a few weeks ago we had great seats, first row behind the first base dugout, but people who had worse seats just came up and stood in front of our seats. One dad let his little boys stand there even though my wife and I were trying to sit down and I was really surprised when a few minutes before kickoff the two guys in the seats next to us left when the real ticketholders showed up.

So for all the positives I will generally prefer to stay home and watch in comfort.

posted by billsaysthis at 12:06 PM on September 07, 2012

I'd rather watch live unless I don't have the time or money, which is often. Also, I think the more I'm invested in the game the more I want other people around to share the experience with. That's why sports bars can be great, they give you both the social experience and all the replays.

I was thinking about World Cup 2010, and how great watching those matches at the bar was, and I had to go back and watch this video taken where I watched. It's US vs Slovenia where a late Edu goal, that would have likely won the match, was disallowed. I really like the guy who figured out it was disallowed before everyone else.

posted by tron7 at 12:19 PM on September 07, 2012

ever notice that Maria Sharapova has a little bit of a ..

Sharapova vs Azarenka ... power, skill, and certainly more than just a dash of what H_T mentions. Great justification for a new HDTV purchase (avec PVR).

posted by cixelsyd at 12:30 PM on September 07, 2012

I'm becoming less enchanted with live NFL games over time. There's an exceptional amount of dead time during a game that's less noticeable when you're at home and can juggle the game and other things. TV timeouts are a buzzkill.

posted by rcade at 12:44 PM on September 07, 2012

There's an exceptional amount of dead time during a game

Buzzkill indeed.

It's really noticeable at any live sporting event. Hockey for example: the game is tight and the play really intense, crowd going wild. All of a sudden an off-ice official holds up a red light after a play stoppage, and the players start leaning on their sticks / sit on the boards or ice and share some water cooler chit chat. Light goes off and the players attempt to turn back on the intensity ... rarely works.

posted by cixelsyd at 02:30 PM on September 07, 2012

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