Television Or Live?

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Television Or Live? During half time at a football match I was watching a couple of days ago, I saw two successive commercials which made me reflect upon the ideas which are conveyed in the writing of this essay. One of the said commercials was advertising the weekly 'pay per view' game on Sky Sports, (for £8 you can see a football match at 1pm on a Sunday); and the other was an attempt to resurrect the waning support of our nation's rugby team by way of spreading the word that tickets for the next game at Murrayfield would only be £10 for adults and free for under 16's.

This set me wondering, is it better to attend live sporting events, or is the television a suitable substitute? The advances made in television over the past few years, particularly the recent inauguration of digital TV, have resulted in far more extensive coverage of sports events as well as a better quality of programmes.

This has left many people pondering about whether attending live sports events is still worth the effort.

The main reasons people attend live events are: the atmosphere; to support their team/individual/sport; the fact it offers a 'day out'; and in the case of major sporting events the novelty of actually being there.

I would say that all these reasons are quite plausible, and that support is essential to the success of anyone, particularly in sport.

Many people who regularly go to football matches purchase season tickets, which, at a substantial saving to normal costs entitle the holders to attend every home game their team participates in. People who hold these tickets may feel that it was a waste of money if they were not to attend almost every week and so will often go to matches without any real desire to be there. I know this because I have a friend who insists on making the journey to Pittodrie on a regular basis and rarely fails to enthral me with yet another intolerably tedious tale of how bad the game/weather/halftime entertainment/boiled sweet he ate etc was. It never fails to intrigue me however, because despite his dissatisfaction with his regular jaunts, he never, ever considers stopping going to the football as an option. Perhaps he simply goes out of habit and, just like many people who continue to play a particular sport at which they are way past their best, he continues to frequent events which in his opinion are well past their peak. Or maybe it is he who is past his peak for the attendance of such events.

From my own experience I realise that there is definitely an atmosphere unlike any other when attending a live event. It is impossible to recreate the joy of victory, the mass incensed reaction to referee's decisions or the collective feeling of injustice (even when you know it is entirely unjustified,) through any sort of televisual spectacle. However, a few months back Celtic suffered their only defeat (at the time of writing!) in the Premier Division this year. I did not manage to see the game at Pittodrie so instead went to watch it in a local pub. The atmosphere created there when in the second last minute, when a local boy playing for Aberdeen sealed the victory, was absolutely electric. Everyone went berserk! So that too is an atmosphere which is impossible to recreate, although it is one which is genuinely likely to be created far less often than is generated every week in football stadiums around the country.

I feel it is also relevant to mention the success, which is largely down to the support of local people, of our local football team - Inverurie Loco Works - who were accepted into the Highland league at the beginning of this year and have done incredibly well. I have no doubt that their success is directly related to the strong support they receive- crowds of 1000 regularly turn up to watch the Saturday afternoon games which is comparable with almost every club outside the premier division in Scotland, and is certainly impressive for a Highland league team. Without the local support the club would not have had the finances to develop as it has done. It should be said however that the local interest in the team has been generated largely due to the club's policy of using local players, which is something teams in higher leagues looking to boost their attendances should possibly bear in mind.

I would say that with modern stadium design (Seating, heating and the absence of obtrusive pillars in the stands) football is one of the most enjoyable sports to attend live. It is also however the most televised sport in the world, which causes fewer fans to attend matches. This does not however detract from the income received, as teams are paid vast sums of money for the TV rights to their matches.

Other sports such as tennis, rugby and athletics also offer a lot when attended live.

Many sports however are, in my opinion, far better to be watched on the television.

There are a multitude of reasons for people watching events on TV rather than attending them.

In most cases it is simply more practical to watch events 5000 miles away on television rather than making the journey. Some people though prefer to view through the screen, for a variety of other reasons including cost, superior views, guaranteed warmth, comfort and the simple facts that it costs less and takes less time and effort.

One particular sport I feel should be left to the television is motor racing. I personally have never attended a grand prix, but from the feedback I've had from those who have, you could easily avoid the crowds and ticket prices but still gain 'that formula one experience' by following these instructions: 4am. Get up early in an attempt to beat the traffic and to prepare for the exciting day ahead. It would be cold if you were genuinely going to the race so fill your thermos with weak coffee, cup-a-soup or a similar rancid liquid.

4.45am. Drive to your local supermarket and cross the car park at a pace of about an inch every three minutes. This should take approximately six hours before you realise that the traffic really isn't going to cease and those idiots with the Ferrari scarves who strolled by 4 hours ago weren't so stupid after all.

11.30am. You decide to leave the car and make a run for it. Leave the car in the supermarket car park and tramp home through muddy fields or gardens. Being jostled by mulleted Germans will also add to the realism (although this is unlikely during your walk home).

12pm. You finally arrive at the race (home). In your absence your closest female friends have come round, prepared you a spectacular meal, have invited their six most attractive friends each round and are all wearing bikinis. Take a minute to savour the spectacle in your dining room before a large black man clad in an orange lined bomber jacket tells you to go away on account of you 'not having a pass'.

12.20pm. Dejectedly you head to your lawn to watch the race. It is important you have pre-dampened your lawn, so that upon sitting down, the water slowly seeps through your trousers.

1pm. You are now hungry. Put a raw beefburger in a stale bun, douse with watered down tomato sauce. Charge yourself £5 before stuffing it down your throat.

2pm. The race begins. It is not nearly as good as you thought. Without commentary you can't tell the cars apart(the sound on your TV has been turned off). You are only allowed to look at the TV when your friends say the camera is on the area you first viewed. Which is unfortunate as you are viewing an easy corner in the middle of the circuit.

2.45pm. Get people to make exciting crash noises so you can hear them but not see them.

3.30pm. You hear news that the race is finished and it was extremely exhilarating. Pour the £90 bottle of champagne you bought especially over your head, adding to the intense cold feeling you now have.

4pm. Trudge back to your car and take six hours to cover the three miles to home, discovering on the way that the liquid in your flask has leaked all over the back seat.

11pm. Phone best friend to lie about how enjoyable it was.

Motor racing is definitely better to watch on TV.

In my opinion television will, in the long run be beneficial to almost every sport in terms of the revenue created, and the fact that people will continue to attend live events for a very long time, despite the great advances in modern television.

Different sports will be viewed in different ways depending on the viewing potential at the live events. Boxing and Formula One are two that I feel are better left to the TV, unless you can afford ringside seats or access to VIP lounges. Football and rugby however are often excellent to watch live.

I believe there is a lucrsative future, as well as an important social role, for both television and live events.