Comment: The great outdoors?

Sport Business News

"The great outdoors are not always that great," according to Mickey Charles, president and CEO of The Sports Network, based in Philadelphia, US, who prefers to consume his sport with both hands on the remote control and his feet firmly on the floor.

" Look at it this way . . . youre inside an arena, watching a basketball game, perhaps football, even baseball, a colder one for hockey but no snowflakes falling on and around you, some others like golf in nice comfortable warm environs until it rains, possibly, or doing something that is enjoyable for your own pleasure, not as a spectator. Whew! How much does that outdoor experience, like climbing Mount Everest, really do for you? Exhilarating, challenging, rewarding, sense of accomplishment, bucket listings, competitive or just because you always wanted to sky dive? What is the role of the weather and how impactful might it be? Are you a fan or one of the participants? What is your comfort level zone? How much of a difference is there on the 'are we having fun yet? ' meter from being a fan, idle passer–by, serious viewer or the person undertaking the activity? Will the cloudy skies, pending storm, traffic, lack of a parking space, bad seat, 66 guy in front of you, outrageously noisy and verbally abusive one behind you send you home to the comfort of the den, your fireplace, kitchen stocked with the food you want . . . more than reasonably priced and, biggest prize of all, your own bathroom? If a superior power wanted me to sleep on the ground I might have arrived here as a squirrel, perhaps a lion. Why brave the chill of the evening, taller bushes that are the entry to the loo, running water that is the stream nearby and canned food that asks whether you are on a battlefield of some sort? It all comes with camping, canoeing – kayaking, caving – canyoning, climbing and what the outdoors folks have come to call country sports. Very admirable stuff, seriously. Just not for me. . . good for thousands, maybe more; not good for tens of thousands, definitely many more. The 'watchers' among us need the camaraderie, excitement of being there . . . on the scene, like Time Square in NYC on New Years Eve, the Super Bowl, Olympics, World Cup, Indy 500, Ryder Cup, Wimbledon and other events, sporting or otherwise, that are, primarily, outdoors. Where you have to brave the crowds and, more importantly, the potential of the elements. . . wintry cold breezes that are decidedly colder when you are relegated to standing or sitting in one spot, for the most part. The potential of rain, snow, unbearable heat and crowds that are one step removed from fleeing a terrorist attack en masse has to be considered. Cycling is exercise for most of us, indoors or out, and we are, for now, focusing on such as the Tour de France. Here they come, there they go!!! Did you pass or toss any of them a bottle of water? Whoops, we do that at marathons, not biking. Extreme sports have been created for those with a death wish or, at the least, desire for an injury that will bring boatloads of sympathetic colleagues, friends, relatives and the media to your hospital room. There has to be an easier way to gain attention. More frightening is the fact that these and many other outdoor sports are gaining in popularity. Just think of the zealots that follow and love MMA, UFC. . . two men in a cage trying to maim one another. The Romans would have loved this, rain or shine. Spartacus and friends in 2011. Sports, as has been the case, in one form or the other, simply continues to grow and the populace has an insatiable appetite for it in any form. . . more so today to keep us healthy; and because ours is a world where we need heroes, and who better to satisfy that need than those that are involved with sports? We take part or we take off our shirts, paint our bodies, insulate them with an over–abundance of beer and then challenge Mother Nature, defy her every effort to dissuade us. But, we will have none of that and the games go on. The sharks smash into our cages below the waters and our digital water–proof cameras continue to snap away. Whether the local stream, rivers of the north or oceans that surround us . . . trout, salmon or tuna . . . standing or sitting on a sea–faring yacht, they love it! And prizes abound for the best catch. Undaunted by the weather, these hearty souls are out there at dawns early light. I am not going hang gliding. I have no desire to be, or emulate, a bird. Humans want to fly, no doubt about it, and this is the closest we will come for now sans 747. Gliding looks good in the Thomas Crown Affair, whether Steve McQueen or Pierce Brosnan, but I will watch. Hot air ballooning is another matter. Been there, done that and would go again tomorrow morning. As one gets older tastes change. And there are other decisions that direct our attention and determine our wants, needs, desires, tastes, what we will or will not abide, the factors that weigh heavily on what we do as participants or as fans. If we choose to play golf, go horseback riding, undertake kite surfing (for the more adventurous among us), ride a Harley, jet ski, sail, windsurf, scuba dive or snorkel, take to archery in the manner of Robin Hood, skateboard, ski, skate, run or walk for cancer or other similar causes. . . even a marathon or two, water ski or go white water rafting, it is because we want to, we cannot resist the challenge. If conditions become such that the event is suddenly high on the tenuous list and the lounge at the resort or den at home beckons, into the car, onto the tram, a ride in the limo or a short walk back and easy decision. On the other hand, once we have paid hard–earned dollars to watch someone else contend, play, lock horns and there is a sudden cloudburst, wind that will take the clothes off your back, snow, frigid temperatures, incredibly hot day at the other end of the thermometer, then we have a decision to make. Is it the boastful and pride–ridden 'I was there!' that keeps you shivering away and then wondering where the heck you parked your car or just a twinge of sporting insanity? Was the giant screen at home such a bad choice after all? Outdoor sports are here to stay, there is no doubt about it. The weather, like sex and gambling, is part of our world and all three bring their own measures of discovery, surprises, wins and losses that satiate a need within. . . to just do it. To try. To succeed . . . on our own or in the shared shadow of our partners, companions, heroes or the image in the mirror when you can tell it 'Yes, I did that!' I am not going sky diving but an eagle on a par five? That makes the day, year, lifetime. Walking with Tiger Woods and the rest of the crowd as the rains come down and my umbrella rests comfortably back at the hotel? Not so sure. Rooting for my favorite NFL team from my home? Sounds like a plan enhanced by replays and the creature comforts around me. Up in the nosebleed section while the winds nip at my face like so many bees on a rampage and I fear for the beer behind me falling out of the hands of the inebriated guy rooting for the other team? Not a good choice. But, for the 72, 000 others that love being there, it is part and parcel of the fan mentality. Like the credo of the postal workers in the US – 'Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. ' The rounds in this case translate to attendance at events. As billion dollar stadiums, arenas, ball parks continue to be built someone must know something . . . as do all those fans adorned with Gortex, North Face, Eddie Bauer, LL Bean, Patagonia, American Eagle, Abercrombie, Roxy, Lands End and others. The heck with the rain . . . so you get a little wet, so what? Get out that three wood and go for the green! Also, you did remember to bring an umbrella, right? About Mickey CharlesMickey Charles is president and CEO of real–time sports wire service The Sports Network (TSN), based in Philadelphia, US. For further information about The Sports Network, visit: www. sportsnetwork. com. The Sports Network2200 Byberry RdHatboro, PA 19040 Tel: +1 (215) 441–8444 Fax: +1 (215) 441–5767

Additional information