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Sandra McDonnell on the current nature of televised sport

Yesterday, with my husband away with his buddies on in his annual golfing weekend – this time in Ireland – and the rest of the family otherwise occupied, I was able to do a little shopping and then settle in for a self-indulgent afternoon watching rugby on television.

In recent years the range of sports channels available in the UK, supplemented by numerous websites offering ‘streaming’ matches and meets, had grown from a sports fan’s delight into something of a surfeit. When I think back to the offering available in the 1970s and 1980s (exclusively on terrestrial television of course), it seems like generations ago – and certainly in technological terms it is.

Keen to see some of the best Rugby Champions Cup first round clashes, at one point yesterday afternoon, fortified by a cup of tea and two English muffins weighed down with butter and apricot jam, by jabbing the buttons my remote control I managed to find myself simultaneously watching Saracens v Clermont Auvergne … Glasgow Warriors v Bath Rugby … and an ‘as live’ recording of the early morning Test match between the Wallabies and New Zealand (a nail-biting 27-28 overtime victory for the latter) across different BT and Sky Sports channels.

None of them to any degree of lasting satisfaction.

I’d stay with one, say the Saracens match, for two or three minutes and then, when there was a small pause in the action – e.g. for the setting of a scrum, an injury, a free kick or a penalty – I’d switch to the next and watch a couple of minutes of that … and then try the third. And then the first again …

Why didn’t I just choose one – perhaps record one or both the others – and watch them one after the other? Or just stick to one and immersed myself in it (as any sensible person might ordinarily do)?

The answer is probably “Because I could”.

That’s the problem with modern technology.

I’m not on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and whatever the latest apps and social media vehicles are. I take the view that life’s too short – or at least, mine is. In the same way that, these days, I’d rather drink one bottle of really rather excellent wine on a single day than two or three mediocre ones over two days.

Better, surely, to savour one experience to its fullest extent than flit about trying to keep up with everything … and ending up appreciating none of it.

I never thought I’d find myself admitting as much about top class sport.


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About Sandra McDonnell

As an Englishwoman married to a Scot, Sandra experiences some tension at home during Six Nations tournaments. Her enthusiasm for rugby was acquired through early visits to Fylde club matches with her father and her proud boast is that she has missed only two England home games at Twickenham since 1995. Sandra has three grown-up children, none of whom follow rugby. More Posts