Jaffe: Sports are best viewed in Pacific Standard Time

Jan. 25, 2011, 1:33 a.m.

The West Coast is clearly better than the East Coast. And it can’t be better unless it’s better for sports fandom.

Of course, I should preface this argument by saying that I’ve lived my whole life on the West Coast. Duh. But really, is that so bad for my argument? I’ve lived in a wonderful place for watching sports, and every time I leave, I’m reminded of how great I have it.

When I’m not living at the greatest campus in the world watching Stanford win Directors’ Cup after Directors’ Cup, I live in southern California, in an area that a few years ago came to be known as “The O.C.” but which is known to people more commonly as “south of Los Angeles” or “near Disneyland.” Living in this area has allowed me to enjoy one of the most underrated qualities of sports fandom—not having a local NFL team.

While there is no logical explanation for Jacksonville having a team in the most popular sport in the country but the second-largest city in America getting shut out, the bright side to this weirdness has manifested itself in television coverage. While Bay Area fans are shackled to 49ers-Cardinals and Raiders-Broncos and Florida residents have to see Jaguars-Titans and Dolphins-Bills, those of us in No Man’s Land get Pats-Colts and Steelers-Saints. So what that there’s not a local team? I get to see the best games every weekend and I can choose my favorite team (I chose the Colts about a decade ago because I liked watching them play, and I haven’t wavered).

But anyway, this is about West Coast vs. East Coast, not just about me. The fact is, I can babble about whatever I want, because the West Coast is so clearly better for sports fandom. Forget getting to watch Western teams instead of Eastern teams. The overall experience of being a sports fan on the West Coast is much better than the same experience on the East Coast.

Take football, which is the most popular and important sport in America. Here on the West Coast, my entire weekend is built on football. When I wake up on Saturday, college football has begun, and I can stay in my pajamas all day long watching 9 a.m. Big Ten games, 12:30 and 3:30 national games, 7 p.m. Pac-10 games and then have the late night to go have fun with other people and go to parties (which for me clearly means watching several rounds of highlights of all the games I just watched while never changing out of said pajamas, leaving the room or socializing).

The next morning, I can start the cycle all over again. The first NFL games start at 10 a.m., meaning I can certainly make myself get up for them, but if I’m not that interested, I can sleep in and watch the second half. Either way, I get to grab lunch in between games and then watch the afternoon games before Sunday Night Football with dinner. Once that’s over, I have to come to the realization that the weekend is over, but I still have plenty of time for the whole weekend’s worth of homework.

But of course, the weekend isn’t completely over, because the next day brings another great tradition—dinner and Monday Night Football. You can watch with your family when you’re at home, and you can watch surrounded by friends at school. It really is the reward for making it through a Monday.

So let’s quickly look at how this all changes if you’re on the East Coast. You get to wake up, and then wait. While a few people (myself on a good day included) can easily sleep until noon or 1 p.m., the majority of people wake up in the morning on a weekend. What kind of weekend starts with waiting? Sure, watching pregame shows can be fun, but it’s certainly not the same as nonstop football. So after you’ve waited for a few hours and gotten bored with the weekend, you can start your afternoon with football. Starting in the afternoon? Weird.

After you’ve watched the main games through dinner and after, you decide you want to do something else with your day, and you therefore miss the West Coast games. (This is the part where you don’t give Pac-10 teams credit and you call them soft without ever seeing them play.) The next day, you get to start your day off with even more waiting, and then watch a couple games before Sunday Night Football. Then what? Watch until midnight and then actually have nothing else to do with the weekend? Sounds less fun. But at least it’s not Monday, when you have to stay up past midnight to make it through Monday Night Football. If you’re talking general audience, there’s no way 12:30 a.m. makes more sense for kids, working adults or the elderly, just to name a few groups.

But the world is not just football. Let’s look at other sports. Generally, most sports are played in so-called “primetime.” That means many big-time games start between 7 and 9 p.m. local time. So if you’re on the West Coast, you get games starting from 4 to 7 or 8 p.m., which gives you a whole evening of basketball or baseball or whatever you like. On the East Coast, everything gets shifted over, so you don’t get any real games until after dinner, and if you go to bed at any reasonable time, you miss the end of a lot of big games, and you’re not even around for the start of many West Coast games.

I feel like SportsCenter can summarize the entire superiority of sports fandom on the West Coast. My whole life has revolved around the timing of SportsCenter, and it works perfectly for someone on the West Coast. I could wake up to SportsCenter, find the early updates and previews right after school, see the highlights of the first games after dinner and then get the final wrap-up before bed. On the East Coast, nothing has happened before the morning SportsCenter, so you’re just watching to see highlights of all the games you didn’t watch the day before because you live on the East Coast. Then, you can’t see much of anything until dinner time’s previews. Right before bed (unless you’re routinely up past 1 a.m., which plenty of college students aren’t, let alone the rest of the country) you get the first round of highlights, and the final round of games is still far from over.

It all comes down to this: would you rather have all day to watch sports and get to see every game live, or would you rather wait a few hours until games start and wait until the next morning to find out what happens in the night games?

Jacob Jaffe doesn’t even want to get into the Orange Bowl, his only East Coast sports watching experience. Relive the midnight finish with him at [email protected].

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