There are some definite advantages to watching games on TV – the food is cheaper, the beer is cheaper and the couch is pretty comfortable. If you’ve got a big TV and surround sound too, then yes, that’s a pretty tough argument as to why going to a game isn’t that great. However, there’s more to it than that.
The University of Washington Department of Intercollegiate Athletics external staff are deep into Seat Selection Central right
now whereby we are assisting our season ticket holders select seats at the newly renovated Husky Stadium. As part of the setup, season ticket holders can select their new seats online using the “Virtual Venue,” call into the Seat Selection Central or actually visit the Seat Selection Showroom in person to get a better feel for how the seating will be at the new Husky Stadium. For most people, picking new season tickets is a big deal and not something to be taken lightly. The financial investment is a consideration, however there are so many other factors that come into play as a result of the unique situation taking place.
How many opportunities is a sports fan really given the choice of sitting anywhere they want? Let me tell you – not many, if ever. Well, Husky fans have that option this year. For the last 20 years or so, fans have only been able to improve their seats as other fans drop out or don’t renew their season tickets at the same rate or level. There are probably other ways to get better seats, but for an honest, hard-working season ticket holder, this was really the only way you were going to get better seats – by someone else dropping out, not being able to afford the same price level, etc. Now imagine that your team completely demolished their old stadium, built it completely brand new from the ground up and gave you the option of sitting ANYWHERE you want. Yes, every seat was available to the first season ticket holder to select.
That’s exactly what we are up here are the UW. Our season ticket holders, in priority order, get to choose from any available seat when it gets to their selection appointment time – what an opportunity! This is really a once in a lifetime event for our fans to choose seats in a stadium for which they will be the very first person to sit in that particular seat.
So, to answer the question at the top of this post, why is this better than watching at home? Well – the new Husky Stadium is a pretty big draw and almost speaks for itself. In this case, you’ve pretty much got the option of picking wherever you want, you’ll be the very first person to actually sit in your seat, the amenities and game experience are very much improved and it will arguably be the most modern stadium in the country at the time that it opens.
In general, the advantages to game attendance versus watching at home are numerous, though I’ll only give a few points here. The biggest thing that I hear people talk about is the sense of community and the feeling you get by being at a game. Even though you may not know anyone else at the game, you get a sense of belonging and pride for being a part of something bigger than yourself. You feel like somehow you being there makes a difference to the team and you want to be a part of their success. Somehow you feel connected to the other fans in the tailgate areas, in the stadium and you can’t explain that sense of belonging any other way.
Another more tangible advantage to watching a game in person is the fact that you can see the entire field all at once. This is my favorite reason for watching in person – I want to see what both teams are doing at all positions at all times. As a former lineman, I want to see what those guys are doing on run plays….how their form is on a passing play. TV hardly ever shows what these guys are doing except once in a while when something bad happens or just by chance they are in the camera view that includes the quarterback. You also get to see the entire defense setup and can easily read what formations they break into and how the coverage changes depending on the offensive formations.
The last advantage I want to mention about watching a game from a stadium seat and not on TV is that it keeps getting better. As a fan, you want to know that the organization is doing what they can to stay competitive on the field, but also trying to make it as easy as possible for you to get to the game and have a good time regardless of the final score. The halftime entertainment is getting better (something you don’t get to watch on TV), the seats are getting more comfortable, the prices more competitive, and when something big happens you get to say that “I was there!” It does take more of a commitment to getting out to the game, but once you do, hopefully you’ve got the feeling that it was well worth the trip.
As a sidebar, I am fully aware of the fact that TV revenues are an important factor in funding sport related enterprises and give many more fans the opportunity to watch what is happening. The numbers involved in those deals
are often significant, especially in the last few years and foreseeable future, and really do provide the opportunity for organizations to field their teams well-funded. That said though, the best game experience, in my opinion, will always be in person – a conversation the staff here at Washington will be having on a daily basis until at least the end of May. So let me close by saying that if you haven’t been to a game in a while, go check it out. Whether it be a minor league baseball game, an indoor lacrosse game, a college football game, a high school soccer match or any other sporting event – get out and have a great time being a part of something greater than yourself.
I love sport and will always enjoy events in person better than on TV. How about you? Leave your comments below.