America is very much a mobile culture. Many people grow up in an area, fall in love with a particular NFL franchise, then move somewhere else and can’t get their favorite team’s games on TV. In the grand scheme of life’s problems, this ain’t a big one, but on the other hand, for many people football is one of life’s great pleasures and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to embrace every moment of your team’s weekly battles.
Read also: life is short, football is fun*, so find a way.
At least that’s what we’ve done for the past four years — “the way” we found was called NFL Sunday Ticket.
I grew up in Michigan, and I am a die-hard Lions fan.** I don’t watch every game, and while I love the drama that is the NFL, I’m not emotionally invested in other teams. Sure, I’ll watch the big MNF matchup and I eat the playoffs like tasty popcorn, but I only need to watch my Honolulu Blue battle it out every week.
There are only two ways to be sure I can watch my boys:
- Get Sunday Ticket
- Go to a sports bar every week
ADVANTAGES OF SUNDAY TICKET
- I can watch the games in the comfort of my own home, with my surround sound and my big-ass flat panel TV.
- Since I am at home, I can always hear the play-by-play and don’t have to listen to droning commentary about Local Team’s gridiron battle***, which is what happens if you’re an ex-pat with a marginal team.
- You can watch games in your phone, tablet or any streaming device, which is kind of awesome and really comes in handy for people who travel a lot.
DISADVANTAGES OF SUNDAY TICKET
- Holy crap have you seen how much this thing costs? The package starts at $280!
- Realizing that you paid $280 to watch football.
If you’re like me and want Sunday Ticket to watch one team in particular, $280 means $16 a game. Or does it? Remember that Sunday Ticket only gets you games on Sunday that take place in the afternoon. Thursday or Saturday games? Out. Monday Night Football? Not part of the package. Games on Sunday night? Out (which kind of screws with the idea of “Sunday” Ticket, does it not?).
Looking at the schedule for the Lions, let’s see how this impacts my per-game price of Sunday Ticket
- Sun. Sept. 10, Arizona, 1 p.m.
- Mon. Sept. 18, at N.Y. Giants, 8:30 p.m. (no, because Monday game)
- Sun. Sept. 24, Atlanta, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Oct. 1, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Oct. 8, Carolina, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Oct. 15, at New Orleans, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Oct. 29, Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. (no, because night game)
- Mon. Nov. 6, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m. (no, because Monday game)
- Sun. Nov. 12, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Nov. 19, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
- Thur. Nov. 23, Minnesota, 12:30 p.m. (no, because Thursday game)
- Sun. Dec. 3, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Dec. 10, at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
- Sat. Dec. 16, Chicago, 4:30 p.m. (no, because Saturday game)
- Sun. Dec. 24, at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.
- Sun. Dec 31, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
So now I’m paying $280 for 11 games, not 17, which means I’m paying $25 per game. To watch TV. In my house.
So, if I pass on Option 1: “Get Sunday Ticket,” that leaves me with Option 2: “Go to a sports bar every week.”
But wait! There’s more! If you want NFL Sunday Ticket “Max,” so you can get NFL Red Zone (also known as “A sports Red Bull overdose for your soul” and DirectTV Fantasy Zone, the price bumps up to $380 for the season, or, for me, $34 a game. Your call, Sportsball Fan.
ADVANTAGES OF CITY LIVING: I CAN WALK TO SPORTS BARS:
As part of making this decision, I realized that there were two bars within six blocks that show all of the games. I can put on my Lions gear, walk down the street (enduring the judgmental looks and snickers of those who pass me by in the Patriots gear, because in San Diego it seems that everyone is a Patriots fan …), pop into a pub and enjoy the game.
Human interaction! There are other people there, screaming profanities at their teams just like I am doing with mine! Sometimes you make new friends at the bar. Hell, sometimes you find your own tribe of Your Team Fans and it becomes a weekly event to meet them there. And it doesn’t cost $25 a pop!
Better value, right?
DISADVANTAGES OF SEEING THE GAME AT A BAR
- Beers are $5+ (yes, even my crappy Bud Light, San Diego is a big city and things cost a bunch)
- If I get hungry, we’re looking at $15 for a burger, etc.
- So if I go in for two beers (reasonable and doesn’t make me an alcoholic so back off, Prohibition Paul) and something to eat, we’re over $25 for that game.
- If you get a little hammered (yes, two beers does that to me, I’m a tiny human being) and you stick around for the next game because you want to hear people who can’t find Foxborough on a map applaud politely for “their” Patriots****, then you are sailing way past $25.
Hmmm. What I thought was a great value has become a conundrum of relative economics and time-vs.-money.
SIT DOWN, SUNDAY TICKET … YOU’RE ON THE BENCH
For now, I think the better deal for me is to go to a bar for the Sunday Games. As an author, I work alone pretty much all the time. And since I work a lot, it’s great to go out and get some human interaction. If I watch the games at home, guess what? I’ll probably still be working — email, to-dos, catching up on cleaning, etc. Sometimes you need time off, and if you’re a workaholic like me it’s hard to get real time off while you are at home. There is always that compulsion to double-task.
So is it really about the money? Kind of, but kind of not. As part of my effort to Have A Life, I think I’ll enjoy becoming a regular at one of the local pubs. Hell, there’s even one I can take my dog to.
And, yes, she will be wearing her Lions collar. Because why should humans be the only ones to suffer?
My favorite Gif of a bandwagon fan …
* “Fun” is a relative term depending on how your team is doing that year. Read also: for many, “fun” means screaming at the TV and wondering how highly paid coaches can be so strategically ineffective (I mean any idiot could have seen that was the wrong call for Christ’s sake would someone fire this bum!) with their choice of play calling.
** If you wanted to comment “There’s your problem, get a new team” or “get a real team, like my X” or anything to that effect, you are an idiot if you think you’re clever — you need to get some new material. If you actually commented on that on this post because you didn’t read far enough, you are a double-plus idiot.
*** “Local Team” also means “the Patriots” for the bandwagon fans who’ve maybe sniffed Boston once as they stopped there on a layover and have zero local affiliation with the New England area.
**** I haven nothing against the Pats. I think they are an exceptional organization. I just despise fans that gravitate to the winning team. Hey, if I have to suffer every freakin’ Sunday for decades, you Jabronis should also have to have your ups and downs.