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Take me in to the ballgame

November 16, 2007

Posted by Stephen Hardy

Motorola just announced the results of a survey that suggests less than a third of sports fans would rather watch a football game in person than see it at home in high-def. That compares to 45 percent who said they'd rather watch the contest on HDTV. (There must have been a fair amount of undecideds; you can check out details of the survey here.)

In some quarters this news would elicit another round of lamentation about the increasing slothfulness of Americans. But not here. I agree that there are sporting events that are much better viewed on TV than in person. And as fiber-fed broadband services increase, so too will the reasons to stay home.

The fact that the survey involved football games isn't surprising, because cold or otherwise inclement weather would be one factor that would routinely make people wish they were on the couch. I saw a playoff game at Gillette Stadium in 2004 where the Patriots beat the Titans with the wind chill at kickoff of -10 degrees. My buddy and I sort of dealt with it as a badge of honor -- but I wouldn't want to be a fan in Green Bay or some other northern climate (pro or college) and face such misery on a regular basis.

Then there are sports like hockey, where it's almost impossible to follow the puck live, particularly if you wear glasses made from planetarium-strength telescope lenses like I do.

Regardless of the sport, however, optically enabled improvements in broadband services will make staying at home even more tempting in the future. In particular, I eagerly await the day when broadcasters will give the home viewer access to the video feeds from all the cameras in the stadium. Can you imagine the remote-control wizardry you could perform once you got the hang of it, changing camera angles two or three times through the course of a play?

The day this technology is first made available will be marked by two rounds of popping noises across America. Champagne corks will cause the first round. The second will erupt when our spouses' heads start exploding.

All right, so maybe we should approach some broadband services with caution. But I'm getting my thumb in shape, just in case.


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The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave, which makes him responsible for the editorial aspects of the Lightwave franchise. A technology journalist since 1982, he once had his job duties described as "gets paid to tick off advertisers ".

Meghan Fuller is senior editor of Lightwave. She has degrees from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and the University of Delaware and is a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation.