Crio’s Question? – USA sports

A boy brought up on Shield Cricket and Wayville Trots shouldn’t have an issue with games which might lack “Wow!” for the marketers. Hell, I even like watching the golf on TV.

So why can’t I “get in to” US Sports?

Baseball, Gridiron, Basketball…these are nowadays hugely popular (ask the betting agencies) yet don’t grace my screen.

I know there are plenty of Almanacker zealots who can help me here.

What am I missing?


  1. Crio, I think a lot of Seppo sports are like vegemite: if you’re brought up with it, you’re fine, but if you come to it at a late stage in life with a developed palette it can be like being made to scull/skol (?) sump oil.

    As much as I’d love to waste an afternoon at Metlife Field or Fenway Park, I just can’t come at baseball on telly and like a lot of people I am only well an truly on board as the NBA season reaches the fin… *ahem* playoffs. I love NFL – yes, the code, not the game (ever tried to watch College ball? Give me a spell) – it is amazing the hurt those guys put themselves through under unprecedented scrutiny and pressure.

  2. Wayne Ball says

    I went to San Francisco two years ago for the primary purpose to see two of my favourite teams in the flesh. Friday night and Saturday afternoon was spent at the Oakland Coliseum to watch the Athletics beat Houston Astros. Sunday was tailgate party and the game to watch Green Bay play the 49er’s at the now demolished Candlestick Park.

    The live experience is much better than the TV view. At the baseball you get a new appreciation of the angles and agility of the infielders to choose theirs targets from first or second base, and the difference genuine speed for an outfielder can make to hold a runner at 3rd.

    For the football, again the live atmosphere far outweighs anything I e experienced at home, grand finals, state of origin, World Cup qualifiers.

  3. Paul Campbell says

    I agree with Wayne. If you travel to a country and watch sport there, as long as you liked the experience, you’re hooked on the sport. So, even decades later watching it on television half a world away, your enjoyment is connected with those memories.

    I travelled through the U.S a while ago and watched Baseball, NFL, NBA and Hockey. Not always understanding what I was watching, but feeling a part of something big. I prefer Baseball to Cricket because it is about the Pitchers, not the pitches; fastballs, breaking balls, change ups and others I don’t really understand.

    And then there are the stories, like 30 year-old Hector Olivera who defected from Cuba to pursue a career in the MLB. In 2015 he signed with the L.A Dodgers for $62.5 million for 6 years and then, a week ago in the trades, was acquired by the Atlanta Braves.

  4. MGLFerguson says

    Steve, Wayne and Paul have the biggest point dead-on: Most of the American sports are far, far better to watch at the venue than on television. Baseball at the ballpark is wonderful; baseball on TV is soporific.

    The best live sport I have seen is ice hockey: incredibly fast, with end-to-end action; it is less good on TV because you don’t get the same sense of speed, many find the puck hard to follow, and the individual skills don’t come through the screen as well as you might think. Perhaps I appreciate it more because I used to play organized hockey when I lived in Canada.

    NBA basketball is another one where television can’t communicate the strength and effort on display, particularly under the basket: On TV, the players look disinterested (particularly in the regular season). Live – if you have a relatively decent seat up close – the intensity and athleticism on display every play is really compelling.

    The only major sport which really appears better (on balance) on TV is (NFL) football; at the stadium it is really evident that most of the 3+ hours of a football game is taken up by players standing around after every change of possession (for several minutes at a stretch) just waiting for the TV broadcast to come back from commercial, and the shorter breaks between plays are enlivened by replays on TV. In fact, of the three hours between opening kickoff and final whistle, only about 11 minutes is spent in actual gameplay. The massive zoom-lensèd TV cameras pick up the close-in action in a compelling way that is just not possible to see live. On balance, particularly given the extra 4-5 hours of extra time investment needed for sitting in approach/exit traffic both in the lots and on the surrounding roads, the experience of a game is better at home than at the stadium. In my opinion.

    College football is an interesting contrast, though. College football at my own university was an indifferent experience for me, even though our team was decent back then (early 1980’s University of Maryland); and I used to share Steve’s opinion about college football generally. But then a few years back, my daughter enrolled at Auburn University. And I found that watching the game played at its highest level (for the college game, i.e., in the Southeastern Conference, the “SEC,” where Auburn plays) is like watching a different sport. The very best college-aged players are concentrated in the SEC, and the style of play is visually compelling.

    Additionally, college football in the American South is the defining American tribal experience. Tens of thousands of alumni (as well as many non-alumni fans) return to campus every fall Saturday to “tailgate” for hours/days before the game; in town of Auburn, many apartment buildings near campus have been built specifically for alumni to buy a flat so that they will have a “gameday” place to stay. For eight weekends a year. Other families spend hundreds of thousands of dollars rigging out elaborate, theme decorated RVs (caravans, writ large) to drive to campus and park in the agricultural department’s fields. The crowds are huge: Auburn’s stadium, always full, holds 87,000 (compare the number students on campus, about 25,000, in a small town of not much more population than that); Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, LSU and Texas A&M’s are all over 100,000.

    Attending a game at Auburn was an experience I will never, ever forget: They release an eagle (the schools “battle cry”: War Eagle!) to fly over the crowd before the start of the game (I still get chills thinking about that massive, elegant creature zooming past, only 20 or 30 feet away). And the noise the crowd can make is indescribable: during an interception that was returned for a touchdown was, without close parallel, the loudest thing I have ever experienced. After the game… go to YouTube and search for “Toomer’s Corner.”

  5. Did the Yanks ever take up Farnarkling ?


  6. I agree with the comments above. I spent a year in Los Angeles in 1988 (escaped the bicentenary hoopla). Fell in love with Dodger stadium – hotdogs; bad organ music; comfortable seats with great views (still waiting at Subi) and the electric white and blue of the starched uniforms and emerald grass under lights.
    Also the baseball writing of Roger Angell and George Will et al.
    It was a second childhood for me. Start of my gradual falling out of love with cricket.
    MLB is cricket without the boring bits – not a bastardised version like our short form games.
    Being in the US you get a sense of the narrative of the teams and players from the media coverage. As others say – it is hard to get engaged in isolated games on ESPN. Without a context it is just blokes doing stuff. But I love the ESPN docos on famous baseball players; games; series etc. The Ken Burns social history of baseball was sublime (its on Netflix now).
    Ashes or World Series? World Series every time.
    NBA at playoff times; and NFL – Superbowl only for me.
    “Take me out to the ball game
    Take me out with the crowd
    Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks
    I don’t care if I never get back
    Let me root, root, root
    For the…………”

  7. cowshedend says

    Crio, very good question,Just can’t come at NFL or NBA, but each to his own, did see a stat once that the ball is in motion for about 7 minutes on average for an entire NFL game, seems weird that someone can play a ball sport for 10 or 12 years without ever touching the actual knacker.
    NBA and it’s timeouts in the last 5 minutes are excrutiating.
    Agree with PB though with Baseball, love the Burns docco, it seems to have a real soul,always wished i had seen Ebbets field before it was pulled down,love the romance of a club like the Cubbies.
    Ground fielding is stunning in baseball, but Pete can’t have it that there is no boring bits in baseball, when a replacement/relief pitcher is summoned from the bull pen, they let him have up to 8 practice pitches despite the fact he’s been throwing pitches in the bull pen for often hours beforehand.
    In cricket, if you bowl a half tracker outside leg after sitting down at fine leg for 2 sessions unused, it’s pick it up from the pickets and butter up again

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