When I was 16 I went through a football phase.
It started with Italia '90, when I watched 35 matches. Being in love with Golden Boot-winner Toto Schillaci was only part of the reason. After that I started buying Shoot! magazine, followed the sports news and persuaded my dad and brother to take me to Pittodrie to see Aberdeen play Hibs.
I don't think I have ever been so cold in my life. Huddled in the stand, barely able to make out what was happening on the other side of the pitch, I wondered why anyone would do this when they could see the action so much better on telly. So much for becoming a proper football fan.
Since then, whether it's international football, golf, tennis or athletics, I've been content to watch it on TV. The same is true of the Olympics. When others have been anxiously waiting to see if they've got tickets, I've been happy to reduce the competition by an iota and see the action from the unrivalled observation point of my sofa. The slow motion replays, commentary and post-match analysis, which irritate some, enhance the experience in my view.
It's also true that, aside from the Dunhill Cup, the odd cricket match and my school sports days (which I try not to dwell on), I haven't been to that many live sporting events.
Maybe if I had, I'd feel differently. Maybe I wouldn't. I went to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to see Lazio play Fiorentina, which was excellent fun, but it didn't make me want to spend every Saturday in a football stadium. Even though big stadia combine live action and a big screen, I don't feel I'm missing out by not being there.
I know football crowds are declining, and that's a shame, but it's hard to compete when the best seat in the house is your sofa.
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