Sorry for my brief silence. I’ve been doing other things and to be honest I’ve also been struggling to think of anything to write about that’s not related to Darren Sutherland. It’s really knocked the boxing community here in Ireland for six.
I guess the biggest story on a wider sporting scale this week is the return of the Champions League. This year, more than ever with so many debutants, the group stages don’t seem overly appealing – I always feel that it is a competition that doesn’t truly get underway until the knockout stages. Clashes such as Liverpool v Debrecen and FC Zurich v Real Madrid are unlikely to inspire anyone bar the most die-hard of fans, or at the very least the fans of the underdog.
I am, as I’ve no doubt mentioned on here before, a fan of Manchester United so I tuned in to a fair chunk of their game against Besiktas in Turkey last night. TV3 have the rights back here in Ireland so, naturally, I watched it on SKY. I was glad I did.
Their coverage is immense. Now, the punditry was meh – Michel Salgado’s English made him a puzzling choice for the studio panel – and I am a fan of Martin Tyler and Andy Grey. What I really enjoyed last night, however, was the technical elements of what I was watching. I accept, now, that this may be old news to many of you reading but since I’ve literally never been at home on a Champions League evening in recent years, it was my first time watching all eight Champions League games at once.
To give you a brief overview of how the system works, when you press the eponymous red button you are presented with a choice of eight games (on a Tuesday that is. ITV have first choice on Wednesday evenings from this season meaning there will be seven games to choose from tonight). Naturally, I picked the United game but when there was a goal, a little banner flashed across the screen. I press that little red button again and, lo and behold, I’m watching Guti score in Switzerland or Inzaghi poaching one against Marseille or whatever – it really is a stunning service.
Now what SKY are doing is not revolutionary – I know of at least one other provider in the States that does something similar on an NFL Sunday, while the BBC have been giving viewers the opportunity to choose between sports at the Olympics or matches at Wimbledon for a few years now. Yet, I enjoyed last night and again tonight, though the service was marred by the aforementioned absence of one game, in this case Liverpool v Debrecen.
In a world (and a blog) where we sports fans love to give out about all sorts, I’m going to take this rare opportunity to tip my hat in the general direction of SKY and say thanks for the entertainment. Now if only the same levels of commitment could be shown to other sports...