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NFL TV experience still doesn’t compare to being at a game

I took the family to a Bears game a few weeks ago. I froze despite wearing long underwear; I had limited perspective with seats in the endzone; and somebody forgot to put the chocolate in the hot chocolate I ordered at the concession stand.

And I loved being there.

There has been some concern of late that the TV production quality for NFL games is so superior that people will choose the comforts of their couch over popping for those high-priced tickets. None other than commish Roger Goodell said: “One of our biggest challenges is the fan experience at home. HD is only going to get better.”

ESPN’s Outside the Lines dedicated Sunday’s show to the issue with a report from Darren Rovell. ESPN.com’s Rick Reilly gave more reasons to skip the drive to the stadium. He writes:

7) The yellow first down line.

8) Your comfy couch. Have you sat in an NFL seat for three-and-a-half hours lately? They’re approximately the size of American Girl Doll tea chairs. This makes no sense. American seats are getting wider while American stadium seats are getting narrower?

I’ve heard all the arguments, and I saw the fans in Rovell’s report who gave up their tickets to watch the games at home.

And I’m here to say that it is not the same.

Watching the game at home still is a mostly passive experience compared to being in the stands. I could doze off or watch 20 minutes of Rudy while channel surfing.

If I really care about the game, I’m definitely focused in. But I’m not nearly as engaged as being there.

I’m not standing up with 60,000 of my new friends on third and 1. I don’t feel the emotional swings of the game as intensely.

I’m not taking in all the colors on the field and in the stands, a scene that can’t be replicated on television. There’s still something unique about walking up the ramp and seeing everything for the first time on that particular day. Watching Chris Berman during the pregame definitely doesn’t compare.

In my mind, TV has been good for a really long, long time. Probably since the NBC peacock announced the upcoming game would be shown in “living color.” The fact that it has improved dramatically only makes it that much better.

I bow to the alter of Scott Hanson and NFL RedZone, the best creation since….beer?

But it isn’t the same as being at a game.

As Rovell pointed out in his report, the NFL needs to enhance the fan experience to keep up with the times. At the game I attended at Soldier Field, I required better Internet access to follow my terrible fantasy team. During breaks, I wanted to see more RedZone-like highlights on the video board. There were too few of them.

And I wouldn’t have minded some chocolate in my hot chocolate.

I’m not saying I want to go to every game. I’m fine with one or two a year and definitely not in late November or December.

I know it can be a hassle with traffic and parking. And sometimes you might sit next to an idiot.

Some things in life, though, are worth making an effort. I think plenty of people agree. Despite the Bears’ horrid effort last night, the cheapest tickets for the Chicago-Minnesota game at Soldier Field Sunday are listed at $120 for high endzone on Stubhub. There’s still something special about being there.

I will be watching from the comforts of my couch Sunday. And I know it won’t be the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “NFL TV experience still doesn’t compare to being at a game

  1. Nope. The commercial time outs are interminable, the experience of getting to and from is painful and the drunks at games are insufferable. You’ll spend less on Sunday Ticket than you will taking your family to one NFL game and you’ll have much more fun.

    The only way to go to an NFL game is in a suite, if you get free tickets and if you get good parking.

    • I’m going to take KT’s side here. The NFL is the most made-for-TV product in sports. Live, it doesn’t compare to the experience of a good college program.

      And I disagree with Mike, I used to have NFL season tickets (admittedly, in the Georgia Dome, a total mausoleum), but most of the games I remember most vividly have been on TV.

  2. Can’t agree more with you. Who remembers the game they watched from home 10 years ago with friends at their house?

    But, tell me a fan that doesn’t remember watching their favorite team in person during a big game.

    Who doesn’t recall the first game they ever attended live with their dad, or their friends?

    Now try to remember the first game you watched on TV? Pretty hard to do right?

  3. If you’re dozing off at home, that is not a game you would be buying tickets for. If the game is good enough to buy tickets for, you wouldn’t doze off at home.

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