There has been a debate on these pages on the relative advantages of attending an event or watching it on tv. Yesterday I wanted to follow three sporting events: the second Test against India, a crucial mountain stage of the Tour de France and the second day of the Open at Hoylake.
I therefore decided to follow the test on TMS on the radio, the Tour on the telly and the golf on the tablet. Of the three methods, the tablet was least satisfactory as the streaming jumped and became unreliable. The leaderboard is not accessible enough and hardly at all on the BBC Sport app, but I eventually discovered how to view the leader board framing the action.
Inevitably you end up comparing commentators. I like Peter Alliss, even if – or probably because – he has an uneasy relationship with political correctness. I like his voice and the way he sets himself up as our bore in the club bar, but is not. If you are lucky you can have him commentating the same time as Henry Blofield. The cycling had a unsatisfactory element too as they could not show the action straightaway, presumably because they had not purchased the rights. So Eurosport interviewed Greg Lemond and ITV reprised the previous day’s action when it was already unfurling on the slopes of the smaller climbs.
The other problem of being comfy on the couch was that I dropped off onto sleep. I suspect I was not alone as, in my youth, I acquired a reputation for nodding off through early morning big boxing championships, prompting an article Great Fights I Have Slept Through.
Oddly enough the critical stage that put the yellow shirt on Vincenzo Nibali, as he saw off his rivals in the final climb to Chamousse, was one I had visited in 2001. Two old friends, one a aficionado of cycling, organised two days of spectating in the tour and fine dining which I still remember. At Urriage, a spa town, we enjoyed a meal and asked for a dessert which contained hazelnuts. The German waiter who fancied himself as a wit told us that the chef had gone nutty. It does not sound funny – and in one sense it was not – but to be there was to appreciate his efforts at being a funny man which sent us into hysterical laughter and only reinforced his confidence to make more efforts to humour his audience. I could boast that I saw Lance Armtstrong destroy Jan Ulrich on the upper climb of Alpe d’ Huez but this was tainted as, despite his fierce protestations at the time, he was cheating big time.
If you factor in the extreme travel difficulty in accessing and leaving a non-stadium event, the cost, the problems of my eyesight, then I would rather drink a Leffe beer, eating pistachio-filled coloured macaroons on my comfy sofa and let the commentators do the work thank you.