Ever since the advancement of high-definition television and programming, the experience of watching a sporting event on TV has become even better than the experience of attending the actual event.
Now the public can sit and enjoy a captivating experience at home with breath-taking shots and crisp, clear replays. The picture quality seems to be better than 20/20 vision. Doesn’t it sound like a better investment to purchase a top-of-the-line HDTV and subscribe to HD channeling than spending thousands on season tickets for seats that won’t get you commentary, action replays or even a decent view of what you paid to see? Isn’t it better to sit in the comfort of your home and not have to deal with parking and traffic?
The answer is probably “yes”—but not in all cases.
While the University of Southern California’s 56-0 demolishing of the University of Washington on Saturday may not have been my ideal game choice to make my case for the value of actually attending a football game, the game does not really matter when you have seats at the 50-yard line in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Seats at the 50-yard line are like having courtside seats at a basketball game. They are the best seats in the house. While being courtside means you get to see the players and the plays closer than anyone in the arena, at the 50-yard line you get the best overall view. Since football players are giants, sideline seats would be just as good as sitting behind elephants.
At the 50-yard line, you get the best view of the entire field. So what? You can get better views via ESPN’s cameras.
Sure, but you won’t get 90,000 fellow fans on your side and having the same emotional turns as you do throughout the four-hour experience. You won’t hear the pad-on-pad gut wrenching contact. You won’t get to feel and hear the passion of tradition.
I became a USC fan over 11 years ago when my sister enrolled in the school and I became embedded in the tradition. The Trojan fight song hit home for me, and I get chills every time I hear it in person at the game.
However, my good friend Justin Fu, who has no connection to USC, found himself rallying along with every cry from the band just as much as any USC fan in the stadium. It was his first college football game! Justin is a third-year student at Princeton University, so he does not really have legitimate college sports teams to root for. He would not have been so invested in a USC football game, especially this pounding, if he were watching the game on TV, even in HD.
Being at the game, you are completely dedicated to the game. You go through the game and its conditions with the team you are rooting for. The players can’t hear you from your screen. Home-field advantage is actually a big factor (see NBA playoffs last year). You actually make a difference by being there.
Although paying double for food may sound egregious, it almost always is worth it because it smells and tastes so good. Parking is a hassle, but that is why you learn the tricks beforehand. You can severely cut your time spent in traffic by talking to regulars and showing up at the right time.
I won’t sit here and completely contend that going to an event is always better than watching it on TV. But if you have the chance to attend a meaningful game, take it.
If you are going to attend one “crappy” game, like the one I went to, make sure you have seats on the 50-yard line. With those seats, you can appreciate any top college football program game, and not regret paying more than $20 to see an expected pummeling of a Washington school (Washington and Washington State together allowed 114 points while scoring none). With those seats, you have the view, feel and passion of the alumni, and know that everyone envies your position.
Does that not sound like a good time?