Colin Dunlap: What Do You Like Better, Being There Or Watching At Home?
I have, I guess, what the masses call a Man Cave. A nice one.
But I hate the term Man Cave. So, I call it a club cellar — just as sportswriter Frank Deford referred to the room at the bottom of Pittsburgh boxer Billy Conn’s home.
Yes, club cellar fits me better than Man Cave; if it worked for Billy Conn, it works for me.
Anyhow, whatever you call it, the function of these rooms is identical — a sports fan, or group of sports fans, sits there in front of a television of varying size; they banter, they booze, they eat like barbarians and they watch the game.
Pretty straightforward endeavor, huh?
But it got me thinking over the past year or so — and especially the past few weeks — with the spectacular way that these games are covered on television, and all the advances in that television the general consumer can purchase, coupled with rising ticket prices and other factors, might it become commonplace where more people think like me?
That is to say, might it become commonplace where more people would rather watch a game in the confines of their home bunker than attend the actual, live sporting event?
Because that is where I have firmly arrived. No question.
Follow me here …
Where I watch games in my home, there rests a big, high-definition television. Now, I’m the guy who still calls it a club cellar, so I’m told there are a bunch of pixels, even as I have zero clue what that means. All I know is it makes the game look nice.
So, too, does the coverage the networks provide. They have slow-motion replay, super slow-motion replay, double-quadruple-cuatro-cinco-seis slow-motion replay and that slow-motion replay where I can see a bead of perspiration drip off the tip of Andrew McCutchen’s nose as I pinpoint what color the eyes are on that gnat flying past at the time.
All good stuff.
So, too, is my ability to run to the restroom without impeding others, or, way more important, them impeding me. Also, and this is probably the biggest thing, my beer is freezing cold, cheaper and — I have counted — precisely 11 steps away in a refrigerator.
The accumulation of these factors makes for pure viewing bliss in my club cellar.
But, wait, there’s more!
Please, though, don’t take this as a column advocating not going to games. You do what you like; you make the decision you want to make. I’m just thinking out loud here that technology might be heading toward tipping the scales where it will — or maybe already has — become exponentially more enjoyable to stay at home.
For instance, there is no doubt I can’t get the same collective, amongst-the-people feel in my home that I get at a game. No matter how many people are invited over, there’s no feeling like the commonality of going through the ebbs and flows of a game with a stadium packed full of people. Being there, in that moment and hanging on each play as it unfolds right in front of your eyes, is truly special.
To do it, however, isn’t cheap. One must plop down a decent amount of money for parking, tickets and then, if need be, concessions.
Then there were protocols announced just this past week by the Pirates and Steelers, in an effort to make us all safe, that could serve to work against the impatient.
And, God knows, I’m impatient. Ever hear me deal with some callers to my radio show?
The Pirates instituted a wanding procedure that went horribly wrong on Tuesday night, with people standing in exorbitantly long lines and some missing phenom Gerrit Cole’s first pitch in the big leagues. To their credit, the organization quickly apologized and worked diligently to improve the procedure.
Across the North Shore, at Heinz Field, word came down that the Steelers — by virtue of an NFL mandate — will prohibit women from taking purses to games.
In my club cellar, however, you can bring as many purses as you’d like. And no one will wand you.
What also won’t happen in the lower reaches of my home during a game is the constant stream of people, during play, shuttling past you in an effort to get to the restroom.
“Excuse me, pardon me, my bad, excuse me, pardon me, excuse me …” we have all sat in an aisle at a game where this has happened. Not much in the world in less enjoyable.
Certainly, I will go to some games in the future, take my kids and all that jazz.
Undeniably, I will watch many in my club cellar as well.
But, in the recent past, I just got to thinking, I wonder if the best fan experience is right there inside your own home.
Colin Dunlap is the featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.