I hear it was another exciting ending to the National League Championship Series game last night. I wouldn't know because it happened at almost 11:00 and I need to be in bed for work the next morning. I couldn't stay up--AND I'M A GIANTS FAN! I don't get to see a lot of ends to games because the leagues and the networks insist upon starting them so late. Honestly, I don't see how any sports fans who live in the Eastern Time Zone can stay up to watch any major sporting event--since they all start at 8:00--and sometimes even 9:00 in their area.
For baseball this is especially damaging since there is no clock to give you a fairly consistent time of play. Most basketball games are done in two to two and a half hours. Hockey is two-and-a half to three. Football is stretching out again to three to three and a quarter hours. But you never know what you are going to get with a baseball game. Both pitchers could work quickly and you could be done in two and a half hours. Or you could get the three-hours-41-minutes that we got with the Giants and Cardinals last night. Perhaps that is why the average age of a person watching a baseball broadcast is over fifty. That means a lot of retirees--who don't have any reason to be up early the next day. Although, I get the feeling that many of those folks are really just sleeping in front of the TV.
The idea that big sporting events need to start in the Prime Time TV window in all parts of the county is outdated and antiquated in modern society. When there was just one outlet to watch the game, I can see why you had to start late. But our viewing habits have changed radically in just the past decade. Games that start early in the Mountain and Pacific time zones are accessed by millions via computer, tablet and smart phone. Millions more have DVR's in their homes set to automatically record contests for playback later in the evening (so long as the user remembers to stay off Twitter and disables the score alerts from the ESPN ScoreCenter app). The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament doesn't seem to suffer from playing half of its games during the day the first two rounds. Amazingly, everyone seems to know when there has been a huge upset or a buzzer-beater to win--because we are all watching in our offices on the sly. Once Nielsen perfects an "all users/all viewers" measuring system for its ratings, advertisers and networks will hopefully realize that the all-important "after 8:00 Eastern" time frame isn't that important anymore.
A survey released last week showed that people who live in Hawaii get the most sleep of all Americans. Part of that is due to the fact that their days are pretty much the same length all year round--so it's easier to go to bed at a regular time every night. Plus, the constant beautiful weather doesn't require you to get in as much work as possible every day before it gets brutally cold or brutally hot. But the biggest factor might be that nearly all sporting events are done by 8:00 Hawaiian Standard Time. When my wife and I took our first trip out there, I watched a big Wisconsin-Michigan State basketball game that tipped off at 8:00 Central Time that was done before 6:00 Hawaiian time. For Islanders, even Thursday and Monday Night Football are done by 7:00. No wonder those folks can get so much sleep.
And so could the rest of us if they would just start the games at a decent hour.