Posted: July 8, 2013

Last week Jacksonville Jaguars president Mark Lamping told Sports Business Journal that the team is considering using one of the new video screens to show the NFL RedZone channel.

To me, it is clear the Jags are trying to bring some of the at home experience to the stadium. So, this raises the natural question…Where is the better place to watch a game, at home or at the Stadium?

A few sports have a very clear answer.

Hockey can only be best viewed live. There is no debate on this from anyone who has been to a live hockey game. The game just does not translate well to tv, with a small puck and fast action. Additionally, there is so much that happens away from the puck that is simply missed on tv. So much happens away from the puck that the NHL acknowledged that it needed a second referee just to watch things away from the puck. There is no way tv can cover it all.

Almost everything else is better at home, from the comfort of your couch.

Baseball must have a remote control. You need other things to distract you from the pace of the game. You can watch five games simultaneously and not miss a pitch. The only thing better about the in stadium experience of baseball is people watching, namely, seeing what other people do during the five minutes between pitches. Plus you need replay to see how badly the ump missed the call. Was it a normal miss, or was it the wrong player caught the ball kind of miss?

Now let’s look at what you get in stadium.

Mediocre cold food that costs as much as a steak from Peter Luger’s. Fifteen dollars for a hot dog and a beer versus fifteen dollars for a cheese pie and a six pack. You make the call? Some newer stadiums have more exotic food choices, but you will pay dearly for that upgrade. Personally, I will order in and eat from the lazy boy.

You also get overweight neighbors encroaching on your seat. How long before stadiums follow the airline model and charge the obese for two seats. I say this not being far off from needing two seats myself, but it is needed. Or you have bleachers where the assigned space for a seat will only hold an 80 pound woman. That’s going to be an uncomfortable game when the 250 pound man sits in that space.

A trip to the game also comes with hours and hours of traffic, assuming you can even get out of the parking lot. The old Giants Stadium parking lot was so bad, you got a room reservation at the nearby Marriott with your ticket so you could wait for the next day before trying to get home.

I have not even got to the prices yet. For the same cost of taking a family of four to a game with food, you could buy a large screen HDTV. This is not even an exaggeration.

Now, what do you get at home.

You get the benefit of that HDTV for 365 days a year.

You get replays, on your own terms, through your DVR or just the regular broadcast.

You get a close up of the action. Ever see a pro football game from the upper deck. You can see it better on your 3 inch Sony Watchman.

But here is the exception to all this… sports! College sports, especially college football, changes the equation and changes it dramatically.

At a college game, you get more. So much more, that all the other drawbacks mentioned above, become irrelevant.

You are not at a game for just the game. You are part of an event, an event that has tradition and customs attached. You have the {Fill in the blank} Walk, pregame rituals, cheerleaders, etc. It is an environment of shared interest and brotherhood. The environment around a college sports event is just different.

Tailgating is bigger and better. The food equation changes when you bring your own food and drink. Now, you are stocking up at the grocery store before heading out. It’s your own food, prepared your way, among thousands of others doing the same. This can be as fancy or as simple as you want. From a large hero and six pack to a gourmet catered affair served on fine china. The diversity of tailgates is immense and limited to only ones imagination. This does happen at NFL tailgates, but there is a difference in quality when tailgating for a few hours versus when you begin on Thursday night for a Saturday college football game. Ever walk up to someone else’s tailgate at an NFL stadium and be welcomed with the same vigor as at a college football stadium? It may happen, but it’s not the norm.

On our quest, it is part of our routine to spend as much time in different tailgates as possible at each stop. We are regularly amazed by the welcoming we receive and the stories that are shared. The genuine hospitality continues to amaze, since we rarely have a tailgate to call our own.

The in stadium experience of a college sports event is also just different. The camaraderie of a group of fans cheering for their school is different from a group of fans cheering for their team. It is a subtle but very real difference. It is something that is unique and cannot be matched on the professional level or from ones couch with a few buddies. It is even better when the home team wins.

One of the other large attributes that I will leave largely unmentioned, is the scenery that accompanies a college sports event. Let’s just say it is drastically different from that of a pro environment. Enough said.

A game from your couch is wonderful. The big screen, high def viewing cannot be beat. The spread that my wife will put out on the sports themed décor adds to a great environment. But I will take a college environment with its tailgating, traditions, and camaraderie over my couch any day of the week. Now if they could only fix the lack of functional WiFi or cell phone service.