Monday, April 11, 2011

Viewing in Europe - live vs. delayed

It’s the ever-present dilemma of the US sports fan living in Europe. Do I make the effort to watch the event live, often destroying sleep patterns and sanity in the process, or do I make the “tape-delayed”/TIVOed sacrifice and try to maintain radio silence long enough to maintain some portion of the live sports thrill? Of course, we’re fantastically spoiled today. To even have access to American sports in Europe, live or otherwise, is a relatively recent phenomenon for most. The internet has made it possible to have it all, with satellite and cable options close behind (or even ahead, in terms of video quality). Ten, twenty years ago, expats living in most European locations would have been hard pressed to catch more than the Super Bowl to get their American sports fix. Still, why apologize for where we’re at now? Things are great, and they’ll likely get even better. But with the North American time differences, the choice will remain…

For some sporting events, it’s easy. NFL regular season games start at 7pm on Sundays (CET). In some ways, that presents a much better option than continually sacrificing family outings in favor of pigskin viewing, as was often the case back in the states. Same goes for college ball on Saturdays. Baseball-wise, there are often good games available on the weekend, Sunday for sure, at similar times. Both of these are less palatable if you are, like my buddy luvbeers, a west coast sports fan, as you’re still going to be starting around 10pm CET at the earliest. Still, it’s doable. The early rounds of the just-ended NCAA basketball tournament were also quite easy to follow. NASCAR races are often run “early” on a Sunday, major golf and tennis tournaments have the same hectic, catch-some and miss-some schedules to deal with that they would if we all lived back home still.

Beyond that, though, it gets a bit tougher. Questions arise. Priorities kick in. Do I stay up to watch regular season MLB games? Probably not. Those keep for the next day just fine. NBA? NHL? The same, for me at least. But then come the playoffs, and the tradeoff gets more difficult. Divisional series, ALCS, World Series… which are worth losing sleep over? What if your local team is in the thick of things? What about the NBA’s “second season”. It’s just not as much fun to watch it the next day, even if you’re able to avoid the score from all of the available sources long enough to watch a game “pure.” Still, there has to be a tradeoff.

Me, I watch a good deal of the “easy” events. And if one of my teams somehow manages to get involved in the thick of things, post-season wise, I will move things around to watch it live (let’s not talk about the Jayhawks right now, though. The wounds are too fresh). Then it becomes about the matchups, and what’s going on in the real world. Rooting for the Giants last season, I ended up watching nearly every minute of the World Series as it unfolded. Made for a tough week, but well worth it. Saw several of their earlier round games as well. On the NBA front, I watched a smattering of games live, and about three games during the Finals. The rest were on delay. I was up to watch all of the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl. That was a no-brainer in my world. I stayed up late for several NCAA bowl games during January and most of the NCAA basketball games during the tournament (though I sure could’ve skipped that god-awful final!). The NHL was strictly a “watch it the next day if at all” proposition for me, as I wasn’t too involved in the later-stage matchups.

What’s your take? What keeps you up at nights in the world of American sports? What would you just as soon sleep through…?


  1. I would have been up for the first couple weeks of west coast baseball, but right now it looks like it's providing grey hair hormones instead of excitement.

  2. With that said, west coast night games make waking up with the baby at 6am far easier knowing there are a good 4 or 5 innings left.