A Look At The New England Patriots Game Day Game Watching Experience


Watching The New England Patriots Every Sunday Is Not What It Used To Be

Oct 15, 2012;  Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Actually, not only has the watching experienced evolved, so has “Game Day” itself. No longer do we wait all week-long anticipating the coming of Sunday. We now have football action on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, and some Saturdays.

For people of my age (born in 1963), when televisions still had only 3 main stations, no recording options, and no digital media outlets, Sunday was the only game day, and it was often a challenge to see your home team play. Your options were to attend the game or live in the ‘local’ area of your team so you had the opportunity to watch them on television.   The latter wasn’t even a guarantee.

The game day challenge for New England Patriots fans back in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, who didn’t have tickets to the games, was that the team didn’t win many games and thus the fans didn’t sell out the stadium.   The blackout rule, which exists  to motivate fans to pony up the ticket price and get to the stadium, often was cause for the home town fans to have to resort to the radio to get any live game day coverage.

Fortunately for many fans in the New England area, the actual geographic make up of the fan base spanned several states.  Therefore, many not far from the Rhode Island border, for example,  could take a short trip to a friend’s house get to see games, escaping the black out and the dilemma of affording a ticket to the game.  

Sunday’s were huge as that was the only game day.  The live and post game coverage was a drop in the bucket compared to what’s available today.  Most eager fans had to wait about 18 hours to get the morning edition of the Boston Globe or Boston Herald sports section to read a story or two about their beloved team and grid-iron hero’s like Randy Vataha,  Julius Adams, Stanley Morgan, John Hannah, Mack Herron, Sam Bam Cunningham, Steve Grogan, and dozens more icons of those years.

Monday Night Football

When Monday Night Football came to life, it was a glorious prelude to what all sports fanatics rely on today, ESPN.  The magic of Monday Night Football was not the game itself unless it was your team.  The real excitement for Monday Night Football was the halftime highlights!   Every halftime of the Monday night game, they had about 3 minutes of highlights from the games played on Sunday.   New England fanatics would stay glued to the television set, awaiting Howard Cossell’s dramatic presentation of the best moments of the previous day, hoping for a glimpse of the team on national television.

The football watching experience has come a long way.   The technology has empowered fans, and is in large part responsible for the massive popularity and thus growth of the game itself.

My personal game day experience these days is a relatively private one. That is mostly because I live in the New Orleans area and there are very few Patriots fans around here. The black and gold crowd are as enthusiastic and as loyal fans as you’ll find anywhere in the country. There is not much room for being a fan of a team other than the New Orleans Saints around here, at least not publicly. So on Sunday, or Monday, or Thursday, and some Saturdays, this Patriot die-hard sits in his home, in his pseudo man-cave, and watch every game by himself, loving every minute of the customized watching experience of his home town New England Patriots, complete with rewind, pause, slow motion, and high-definition.

For many, adjusting the DirecTV settings  to the Sunday game schedule to  jump from one game to the other in the fewest clicks possible is part of the Sunday morning preparation.   Of course, recording every Patriots game so it can be watched several times is a must.

Yet with all this luxury compared to years past, there is a lot of room for improvement.  The delay in the actual signal change from one game to another on DirecTV can be maddening to those trying to watch 3 games at once.  Jumping back to the previous channel can take up to 3 or 4 seconds, causing one to miss an entire play while waiting.

Also, the camera angles can be very frustrating for the hardcore fans.  Whether it be because of an advanced IQ of the ins and outs of one’s teams tactics, or because a fan is a fantasy football junkie, having to settle for the elevated sideline view where the camera follows the ball raises the ire of fans many times throughout the game.

The technology is advancing rapidly, and that is great for the game because it is great for the fan.  However, it will be interesting to see how teams adjust to keep fans coming to the stadium.  Actually being at the game limits your ability to see the game.  However, that is changing as well.  With the massive high-definition screens at newer stadiums and the live streaming of game coverage viewed on portable devices keeps the fan at the game  from having to sacrifice the high-tech coverage options.

The Atlanta Falcons are rumored to be considering seats at the stadium to be animated to give a kinesthetic effect to the experience as a means to enhance the viewing experience.

Long gone are the days of starving for coverage of your favorite team.  Now, the challenge is preventing the massive amount of content from compromising the responsibilities of our busy lives.

Are you ready for some football!!  Training camps are starting and you can watch coverage around the clock on the NFL’s own television network.

The NFL Network

There are 13 games on Thursday aired on the NFL network:  Thursday schedule