Roar and Against: Watching football on TV is better than being at the ground

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    What's better. Being at the ground or watching on TV? (AAP Image/David Crosling)

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    To go to the game, or not to go to the game. That is the question.

    Or it’s at least one of the questions fans have grappled with since sports broadcasts emerged as genuine alternatives to being at the ground.

    This series, we’ve already looked at that question in regards to rugby league and AFL. Now, it’s time to put football under the microscope.

    We’re pitting Roar Assistant Editor Daniel Jeffrey, who’s arguing in favour of the TV-bound crowd, up against Editor BJ Conkey, who reckons you just can’t beat being at the ground.

    Let’s get to it!

    For: Why it’s better to watch football on TV than at the ground

    Daniel Jeffrey, Assistant Editor
    Picture it: you’re at the ground, in the middle of the supporter’s bay. Your favourite player, whoever he or she is, pulls off an incredible piece of skill, be it a lightning-quick stepover, critical tackle or rasping shot from long range. There’s hardly a moment to savour it before the play has moved on, hardly a replay for you to enjoy.

    The same can be said for crucial offside decisions, where you’ll rarely have the chance to see whether the linesman was correct to raise his or her flag.

    Contrast that to the comfort of sitting in front of your TV, where you’ll be offered replay upon replay of those breathtaking moments, freeze-frame vision of offside decisions, and a level of detail just not available at the ground.

    If you want to watch the game and truly appreciate the quality of the players on the pitch, following on TV is the superior option.

    There are more replays which, when you consider the breathtaking speed the game can be played at these days, prove invaluable for the moments you miss or don’t get a good view of at the ground. There’s analysis from the commentary box which isn’t available to crowd members. And there’s the convenience of being able to watch it all from the comfort of your own home.

    Before wrapping this argument up, I’d be foolish not to mention the crowds at the ground, an area I’m sure my adversary will take full advantage of.

    I’ll admit, getting pulled into the chanting and singing can be a thrilling experience. After all, aside from the outstanding skill on display, the in-ground atmosphere is so often listed as football’s greatest asset.

    But, unlike the phenomenal displays of athleticism and dexterity we see on the field, it can easily discourage fans from coming to football games.

    We’ve all seen the issues pop up in the headlines. Flares. Offensive banners. Idiotic chants.

    The issues are not limited to football alone and, if and when they occur, it’s only ever a tiny minority of fans who are the culprits. But it’s enough to make a difference, enough to deter a number of would-be fans from making their way to the ground.

    When coupled in with the added detail offered by football broadcasts, it’s enough to make me stay at home and watch the game on the TV.

    Western Sydney Wanderers' fans

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    For: Why it’s better to watch football at the ground than on TV

    BJ Conkey, Editor
    The ‘passion is not a crime’ hashtag which went viral on social media a few years ago was an insight into how football fans view their sport.

    It’s not just a case of following your team but living through them – 365 days a year.

    That passion is on display at any professional and most amateur leagues around the globe.

    If you’ve been lucky enough to experience the atmosphere of any top-flight derby, you’ll know just how special it is being there.

    Whether it’s Liverpool versus Everton, Olympiakos versus Panathinaikos or Sydney FC versus Western Sydney, it’s a similar feeling. It’s the feeling that this is the most important match and nothing else matters.

    The chants, the banter, and the sheer intensity of the crowd are like no other.

    I went to the 2011 AFL Grand Final – known for the infamous ‘Meatloaf-gate’ – and while there were almost 100,000 packed into the MCG that day to watch Geelong overpower Collingwood, the atmosphere wasn’t quite the same as the 43,000 I was a part of in Porto Alegre to watch the Socceroos’ spirited loss to the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup.

    When Tim Cahill scored that goal with the most stupendous of volleys, time really did stand still and the stadium erupted like it was one big heartbeat of emotion. It didn’t matter I was stuck up the opposite end of the stadium.

    I hugged complete strangers, including security guards. Wouldn’t quite feel right doing that at the pub watching it on television.

    The A-League used to have a slogan of 90 minutes, 90 emotions. When you’re in the stands, you understand what that means, even when you have no connection to the teams involved.

    Television can only do so much to convey the atmosphere. With football, there really is no comparison to the stadium experience.

    There’s watching sport and there’s EXPERIENCING sport. There’s no better TV for sports fans than the Samsung QLED TV which captures fast-moving scenes with ease. Every blade of grass is showcased in stunning colour and thanks to the Quantum Dot technology the game will come alive in your living room.