TELEVISED sport is satisfying, but nothing beats the real thing. That's what I've come to realise after attending a few sports events since I joined the Sports team six weeks ago.
My last experience of watching any game live would have been in the early 1990s, when the Singapore soccer team was in action at the National Stadium for Malaysia Cup matches.
I also witnessed the Red Devils massacring our local boys eight years ago, but that was more for the chance to see the English Premier League team.
Then, younger and more passionate, I would shout myself hoarse at Malaysia Cup games, the tasty triangular curry puff sold there not making things any better for my throat.
So, after a long hiatus from sports events, I found myself at the Padang four weeks ago for the Singapore Cricket Club's International Rugby Sevens.
And I was delighted to see the passion that infected the fans who were watching the games. The excitement and atmosphere was something I have not felt in a long time.
Watching the South African Vipers confound their opponents with their brilliant runs as the spectators chanted their name, experiencing the festive mood in the air and seeing uncut scenes of players psyching themselves up or warming up on another pitch before their turn to play — all these are lost in the two-dimensional world of TV.
Sure, there may be 25 cameras hovering over a single match, but TV viewers only get to see the game from one perspective — the one which the producer decides to let you see.
When was the last time you felt the heartache of a coach as he consoled his players after a defeat, or witnessed two friends from opposite camps bantering over which team is better, or heard vulgarities from an angry fan after his team misses a shot?
If you did, it wouldn't have been on your 42-inch plasma screen.
Take the recent Barclays Singapore Open, for example.
On screen, it was a hushed affair — a lone player on a rolling green lawn with spectators lined along the sides. It was sombre, quiet and stodgy. Even the commentator was whispering, as though he was afraid the players might hear him.
What viewers missed was the rush of fans travelling from one hole to another, the buggies causing mayhem as they whizzed by, the corporate guests chatting over beers and the die-hard fanaticism of spectators who stuck it out in the open even as raindrops started to fall.
The difference between TV-world and the real world was most evident to me because I saw the game being telecast at the event itself.
Yes, some may argue that it’s not all dullsville on TV, there are whoops of joy and cheery applause when a birdie is made. But the emotion felt at the stadium is just rawer.
On television, for instance, Lewis Hamilton's celebration with a raised finger in the air during his victory lap in Singapore almost looked subdued. But at the circuit there was mayhem. Fans were more liberal with their emotions as they screamed, hugged and raised their drinks, cans or even bottles of mineral water.
Given the bland and detached experience of watching sports on the telly, why do people choose that over being part of the action at the event?
I am sure there were many more people lounging on their living room sofas than on the hard wooden benches under the floodlights at Kallang when the Lions lost to Thailand there two weeks ago.
Tickets for sports events do not cost more than a crate of beer, the events are usually held at a convenient time like in the evening or on a weekend, and you won’t get imprisoned for supporting the wrong team — so these can hardly be the reasons.
Convenience, I suppose, would be the main culprit. All the action, however flat it might be, is available at just the click of a button.
There’s no need to queue up to buy a ticket, push your way through the crowds at the event, expose yourself, possibly, to the mercy of the weather and have to be stuck in the car for 20 minutes trying to get out of the carpark after the event.
I appreciate the comfort that television offers, but the emotion I have recently felt at sports events has led me to question whether TV is killing sports somehow.
Without a doubt, there's a need to telecast games for the benefit of those who can't catch it live, but what if it keeps the spectators away?
What if, one day, the chants and shouts at the stands can no longer be heard in the stadiums and halls, but only from the living rooms in HDB estates?
Do you agree that television is killing sport? Leave a comment below.