Professional boxing is not close to being my favorite sport. It ranks somewhere below football, basketball and tennis, but above the “Real World/Road Rules Challenge.” As far as spectator sports go, it’s probably on par with the World Series of Poker and the World Snooker Championships (shout out to reigning champion Judd Trump).
Yet, there I was on Saturday making sure I was in position to watch the $79.99 Pay-Per-View fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury.
The two huge heavyweights did not disappoint. Anyone who was interested enough to shell out the money to see the fight got exactly what they bargained for. Wilder was a warrior, but the former basketball player at Tuscaloosa-Central and Shelton State Community College was no match for Fury, who was a more skilled boxer and was even more physically imposing than his 6-foot-7 opponent.
Wilder is an easy guy to like. He discontinued his basketball career when his baby girl was born with spina bifida and he needed to get a full-time job. His journey up the ranks in boxing included a 2012 match at Mobile’s Expo Hall.
Danny Corte and the Mobile Sports Authority, which was instrumental in making the bout happen in Mobile, was hoping Wilder would get in a few quality rounds against an opponent with a tough chin. But Wilder did what he almost always does, which is win by a convincing knockout.
My most vivid memory of that fight week and meeting Wilder was how nice and accommodating he was to everyone, including those who repeatedly asked if he was LeBron James.
Because of that backstory, I was more interested than I would normally be in the heavyweight championship fight.
But, since boxing is never going to replace any of my favorite sports, I got to thinking about how much I would be willing to pay if some of those other sports were available only on Pay-Per-View.
For instance, I’m going to watch the SEC Game of the Week every Saturday during football season. But how high would the price have to be before I decided it was too much?
Would I pay $500 a year? Of course, I would. I wouldn’t even have to give that any thought.
Would I pay $500 per game? That would add up to $6,500 per year for the regular season, which would seem preposterous. But I know many people who pay $500 for a ticket to a big game. There’s no way they’re enjoying that experience in the stadium any more than I’m enjoying the game from the comfort of my home.
So, is that price really all that outrageous? Of course, it’s all relative. For some people $500 is more than a week’s salary, while for others it’s standard for what they would spend on a date night.
My standard is that any amount shy of sending me into bankruptcy is what I would pay to watch college football.
Here is my ranking of what sports I would be most willing to pay to see on my TV.
College football: I can’t imagine not having college football to obsess over every fall Saturday.
Wimbledon and other tennis majors: I particularly enjoy watching tennis because it’s played at odd times. There’s nothing better than waking up to Breakfast at Wimbledon. I would also lump in the Australian Open and French Open. I would be less likely to pay to see the U.S. Open because it’s in direct competition with college and pro football.
Masters and the other golf majors: Like tennis, there’s the advantage of time of day we can watch. Plus, since the death of Bob Ross (the guy who painted puffy clouds on public TV), there’s nothing better to assist in a good nap than a golf tournament.
NFL football: The NFL does a great job of teaching its fans the rhythm of the schedule. Sunday afternoons, then Sunday nights, then Monday nights and now Thursday nights are penciled in for NFL games. Without that predetermined schedule, I think my week would feel like chaos.
NCAA basketball tournaments: Whatever I would have to pay in Pay-Per-View I can always win back in the office pool.
NBA playoffs: Even if the NBA isn’t your favorite sport, there’s little doubt these are the best athletes in the world.
Baseball World Series: One of my problems with baseball is that we spend six months trying to get to the playoffs, and then the biggest games are played opposite football games I almost always care about more.
I hope we never have to decide how much is too much when it comes to watching our favorite sports on Pay-Per-View. But if we do, boxing will be one of the first I rule out.
Randy Kennedy, who has been a leading voice on the Gulf Coast sports scene for 18 years, writes a weekly column for Lagniappe. His sports talk show airs weekdays on the new Sports Talk 99.5 from 7-10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @kennedy_randy.
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