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Rand: Fans find cozy couch can't beat a live game

  • January 20, 2013 - 10:53 PM

The temptation to simply stay home and sit on comfortable couches to watch sports this weekend was greater than ever. We live in 2013, when TVs keep getting bigger, clearer and cheaper. A lot of us already pay for fancy cable packages, so why not use them -- especially when the games they allow us to see are steps away from mass quantities of relatively inexpensive food and drink?

And not only that -- we are living in mid-to-late January 2013, generally the coldest time of the year in this region's already-frigid winter. Anyone who stepped outside midafternoon Saturday, as balmy temps gave way to an acute drop and biting wind, would have been instantly forgiven for turning right around for the comforts of the great indoors.

But massive throngs of people in the Twin Cities chose otherwise the past few days, proving once again that, at a base level, there is no substitute for attending a sporting event in person.

Colleague Randy Johnson ran the numbers. From Thursday to Sunday, there were seven big games. Five of them were sold out at 100 percent capacity or higher: Both Gophers/UND hockey games, the Gophers/Michigan men's basketball game and the first two Wild games of the season.

The two others were Timberwolves games, which each had announced crowds of at least 16,000, despite the team's recent woes.

Add up the total attendance, and more than 100,000 people can't be wrong (OK, they can be, but stick with us).

The magnitude of the games certainly played a role. It snuck up on us, but that's as good a four-day stretch as we have seen in a while.

The college hoops game was a showdown of top-10 teams. The college hockey games were the last WCHA regular-season series between two longtime rivals. The Wild games represented the fan dam bursting after months of a frustrating lockout. The Wolves played the Clippers and Rockets, a pair of good draws this year.

As someone who attended just one of those games -- Friday's 5-1 Gophers win over UND -- we can attest that it is something more than just the big-game atmosphere that translates more in person than through the nicest of high-definition TVs.

You forget that the in-person experience means more than just watching the game. It's about smells. It's about jersey sightings. It's about walking the concourse during the intermissions.

You pay for parking. You pay for snacks. But sometimes, it's just worth it.

MICHAEL RAND

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