The kicker is that late games actually start off great. Dinner and all other responsibilities are long gone and I'm well relaxed. But by 11:30 I'm shouting at those laid-back West Coasters "speed this thing up!!", and by 12:15 I'm considering calling the entire thing unless the game is enthralling (as of this writing, the Knicks are down by 13 at the lowly Lakers in the game that inspired this blog - so this could be a call in situation).
I've also dabbled in the "watch the game in bed and let yourself fall asleep, and the sports gods will wake you up for the last 20 minutes of the game". Almost never works out like that.
So it got me thinking: what's the perfect time for a game to start during the week? Glad I asked.
You have to add about 10-15 minutes of blabber from the TNT, ESPN, or local crew for all association games, so this would be more like 7:45. Just enough time to get in front of the tube, but isn't risking running past 11.
College Basketball: 8:00pm
These games are shorter than the NBA (though they're getting longer with the new rules), so you can get away with an 8-10:15 sitting. Unfortunately, the 7 & 9 double headers don't seem to be going away any time soon.
Baseball games are longer and more drawn out, so even if you're like me and can't tune in until almost 8, there's a good chance you haven't missed much. You wouldn't want them to start much later and bleed past 11:00pm during a slow AL East tilt.
College Football & NFL: 8:00pm
I'm pretty sure Thursday night college games kick-off at 8, and the NFL needs to follow suit and do away with the 8:25 garbage that ends up running you until sometime around midnight.
How about the weekend? I'm considering attending as well as watching on TV here, but keeping in mind that attending is much more of a day-long event whether you want it to be or not, so start time doesn't matter as much. This is where it really opens up and depends on personal preference. Here's mine:
NBA: 3:30 on Sunday
I believe this is normally the second ABC game on post-Super Bowl Sundays, and it's definitely the best. Saturday is kind of a throw-away for the NBA, but if I had to pick a time, I'd say 5pm.
College Basketball: 5pm on Saturday
Sleep in or do whatever your heart desires on Saturday (Home Goods??) without tip-off breathing down your your neck. The later tip will also mean diehards and casual fans alike can get into the spirit with some beers (don't you hate getting funny looks trying to get after it for a noon tip?). End time between 7 and 730 means you still have the entire night.
MLB: 9pm on Saturday
Any way you slice it, sitting inside for 3-4 hours during the summer months isn't great. I understand that "kids have to go to bed" and you can't have fans potentially leaving at 1:30am regularly, but for the tv viewer at home or at the bar, 9 o'clock means you can spend all day in the sun and catch an entire baseball game by night.
College Football: 3:30pm
Nobody wants to go to a bar watch party for a game at noon. Scratch that, plenty of us are just fine with that. But even so, it stinks when the game you've looked forward to all week ends and it's only the middle of the afternoon. You want that game to carry you right into the night time.
I know this would never happen because of the 1pm-4pm-8pm structure the NFL has perfected, but if ever I only wanted to watch one game, I'd put it a shade past the standard 1pm start and still make sure it was over before dinner.
BONUS start time: NHL: Late April, anytime they want.
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