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

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    Australian Football needs to tell it's own story, because the one others tell isn't good enough (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.

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • Roar Rookie

      June 15th 2017 @ 8:46am
      Stevo said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      It’s quite straight forward lads, if you’re invested in the game and care about the result then being at the ground is a no brainer. I remmber being at the G for the ManU game in the late 90s and while there was a crowd I felt next to nothing. Then a couple of HAL seasons ago when City won in the Dec 2014 derby with a late header goal by Paartalu the crowd noise was so loud I’m still hearing it to this day. What a moment, what atmosphere. The TV would not have done it justice, no way.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 2:35pm
        Mark said | June 15th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

        This. The energy and atmosphere of the crowd at a big game cannot be conveyed through the TV.

        This question is a very simple test of how committed people are to following a sport. Those who are genuinely committed go to matches. Casual fans watch matches on TV.

    • June 15th 2017 @ 8:55am
      Neil said | June 15th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      Life is for living, go to the game.

    • June 15th 2017 @ 9:53am
      League table speaks said | June 15th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      A combination of both? 😉 (Sorry)

      I would take a spot on the hill over plastic safe space-stadia ….the smaller grounds are great. Just not the right ‘look’ they might say now….

      Maybe if we call them “boutique” they would be ok???

    • Roar Guru

      June 15th 2017 @ 10:06am
      Rick Disnick said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      People who prefer watching football on TV are the same silly sods who think reaching for a remote 20 times/day constitutes exercise.

      Most people here probably fit this profile quite well.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 10:15am
        Nemesis said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        And, given you have told us time & again, you only watch EPL and you never watch ALeague, it’s good to have you take ownership of your inadequacies.

        • Roar Guru

          June 15th 2017 @ 10:35am
          Rick Disnick said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:35am | ! Report

          That would have worked then Fuss, but unfortunately we all know I don’t just watch EPL. I watch quite a lot of AFL (live), golf & tennis, along with actually playing them.

          As apposed to you who watches every known football league on the planet along with commenting on this very site every 5 minutes (including Christmas Day for 10+ hours).

          Thanks for allowing me to make my point further.

          • June 15th 2017 @ 10:55am
            Nemesis said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

            Your direct quote: “People who prefer watching football on TV are the same silly sods…”

            • Roar Guru

              June 15th 2017 @ 10:57am
              Rick Disnick said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:57am | ! Report

              Your point being?

              …or would you like me to link the definition of ‘prefer’ to you?

              • June 15th 2017 @ 11:06am
                Nemesis said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

                Ok. Your brain cells must be having a slower morning than usual..

                You – yes, you – prefer watching Football on TV to watching it live in the stadium.

              • Roar Guru

                June 15th 2017 @ 11:33am
                Rick Disnick said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

                Fuss, I can understand it must be tough being an immigrant with limited English skills, but you’ve totally lost it today.

                You might also want to check the definition of ‘football’ because it can mean AFL, League etc.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 12:03pm
                Nemesis said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

                “You might also want to check the definition of ‘football’ because it can mean AFL, League etc.”

                Nope. Not the English they teach in schools that have decent reputations.

                Football means football.
                AFL means AFL.
                Rugby league means rugby league.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 4:36pm
                Griffo said | June 15th 2017 @ 4:36pm | ! Report

                The original meaning of football is a ball game played on ones feet as opposed to horseback (like polo). This is why all those sports that you mentioned have always used the name football because they are all versions of football but with different codified rules.
                Incidentally AFL is the elite league of Australian rules football.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 6:58pm
                AR said | June 15th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

                “Nope. Not the English they teach in schools that have decent reputations.”

                Whilst the University of Bulgaria is apparently excellent – for that part of the world – it’s English curriculum obviously needs some funding.

              • Roar Guru

                June 15th 2017 @ 12:14pm
                Rick Disnick said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:14pm | ! Report


                Your a$$ doesn’t get any more whipped than that, Fuss.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 12:22pm
                Hubris said | June 15th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

                I can see Fuss choosing an imaginary school for his imaginary kids based solely on the terminology used by the imaginary sports department.

              • June 15th 2017 @ 10:22pm
                Nemesis said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

                “The original meaning of football is a ball game played on ones feet as opposed to horseback (like polo). ”

                So, let’s see if I understand this mythical meaning …

                * European Handball is Football
                * Hurling is football
                * Cricket is football
                * Field Hockey is football
                * Basketball is football
                * Volley ball is football
                * Rounders is football
                * Tennis is football
                * Netball is football
                * Dodge ball is football

                I’m sure we can add to the list.

              • June 17th 2017 @ 12:58am
                Griffo said | June 17th 2017 @ 12:58am | ! Report

                I should have clarified that it was referring to sports played on a field between a two teams without the use of other implements where the objective (at least originally) was to score more goals than the other team

              • Roar Guru

                June 15th 2017 @ 11:11pm
                Rick Disnick said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:11pm | ! Report

                I can’t believe this conversation is still going.

                Just for you, Fuss:


                Now go work on your English, peasant.


                “Incidentally AFL is the elite league of Australian rules football.”

                I wish this were solely the case. Unfortunately, the AFL has branded the code as ‘AFL’ here in NSW and QLD. I must admit though: it does work. It rolls off the tongue with people, avoiding confusion.

              • June 16th 2017 @ 7:33am
                AR said | June 16th 2017 @ 7:33am | ! Report

                The obsession over what you want others to call your preferred sport reveals an extraordinary insecurity – from all sides.

                Football, AFL, soccer, calcio, egg ball…when people are *offended* by one or more of these terms, these people are insecure dolts looking to be offended.

    • June 15th 2017 @ 10:19am
      spruce moose said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      I went to the Championship play off final at Wembley this year instead of watching it on TV in the late hours…go to the game. Every time.

    • June 15th 2017 @ 10:27am
      RBBAnonymous said | June 15th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

      To this day I still regret staying at home when WSW won the ACL final (ie 2nd leg). The match day atmosphere was at Parramatta Town Hall, even though you were actually watching it on the big screen. My best match day experience was the first leg against Al-Hilal in Parramatta and also the semi-final against Brisbane Roar when we won 5-4. What a game that was. Electric.

      • June 15th 2017 @ 11:12am
        Waz said | June 15th 2017 @ 11:12am | ! Report

        I must say watching Roar defeat wanders 6-5 on penalties was better in the stadium that watching on tv

        (Sorry, this is now a Roar fans standard response every time a wanderers fan brings up the 5-4 again …… and again ……. and yes, again ?)

      • Roar Guru

        June 15th 2017 @ 2:25pm
        Kaks said | June 15th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

        I still get goosebumps thinking of that 5-4 win against the roar. The place was rocking.

        I remember I ended up hugging some random old Croatian man who was next to me for the game when Vidosic scored. I will probably never meet this man again in my life, but for some crazy reason he will always be a part of me because of that game – thats the beauty of live football!