Having lived in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania, I’ve spent many hours watching the fall indoor circuit live. Back then, it was the only way to see the shows. Last week, I spent many hours watch Penn National streaming live on the USEF Network. I could watch the show in my recliner. I could watch the show in my pjs. I could take the show with me to the kitchen. I could chose from live stream, video recaps of winning rounds, or videos of entire classes. All for free with no travel. Given all that, would I ever attend any of the shows again? In a heartbeat.
The camera work was excellent and the video quality clear. Yet, I still missed so much. Moving down to the rail to get the up-close and personal view of a round. Moving up to rafters to watch the course as a whole. Peeking down the chute to see who is waiting to go, Hearing the footfalls, the snorts, the occasional “Whoa. Whoa” into the second half of a double. The smell of pine shavings, manure, and grease that says Indoors.
Then there are the ancillary benefits of actually being there. I love to see warm-up if I can wangle a pass. Or to wander around the barns and spot an AGA Championship cooler casually stuffed over a blanket bar. People watching and people chatting are equally entertaining. I can turn to my seatmates and begin talking, knowing that we already have enough in common. I’m not a shopasaurus generally, but there used to be a jewelery vendor at the Rolex trade fair who recognized me from year to year.
There is a herd mentality bonus of being present in Madison Square Garden when Leslie Burr (Lenehan/Howard) won rider of the year with a busted shoulder. It would have looked just as impressive on screen, but I’m glad I was there to see it. The same attitude keeps football arenas and baseball stadiums filled when the view is far better at home.
USEF Network: WIHS this week & the $250,000 Grand Prix from the National* on Saturday the 2nd. There goes my data plan. (*Yes, I still think of it as New York, even though it as been years since.)
Gratuitous Cat Picture