Thank goodness for television. Without it we simply would not be able to experience all that life has to offer.
Travel programmes transport us to parts of the world we could never afford to visit. Game shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire allow us to imagine that easy money may come our way. David Attenborough’s documentaries teach us so much more than books in the classroom ever could.
It’s the same with sports.
So many of us are armchair sports fans partly because we’re not inclined to athletics and partly because sometimes sports are more exciting to watch than play.
And did you know that watching sports on TV could actually be good for you? Getting all worked up over the winners and losers could have the same kind of health benefits as a full body workout. According to an Australian study in 2013, watching sports on TV increases your heart and breathing rate and gets you all red in the face – just like the real thing.
So, there’s no need to feel guilty about sitting on the sidelines rather than getting in on the action.
And, in any case, it’s just not practical to watch some of the greatest sporting events in the flesh. Travel costs alone are good reason to hunker down amid the throw cushions and become a bona fide home fan.
Of course it’s hard to recreate the atmosphere of a live event, but do you really want to sit in a hard plastic chair for the duration? Not to mention the loud-mouthed fan behind you who keeps spilling beer over your shoulder. Or the kid who keeps kicking the back of your seat. And have we mentioned the colossal queues for the restrooms/bar/food?
And after it’s all over, you’ve got a two-hour wait to get out of the car lot.
Here’s a rundown of some incredible sporting events that require viewing from the best seat in the house – the sofa.
Australian Open, Melbourne (January 2016)
But that’s no reason to miss out. Watching a five-set clash between some of the greatest rivals in sporting history will keep you glued to the upholstery and you won’t even have to break a sweat.
Can you really say you weren’t as gripped by this year’s Djokovic/Murray final as any other fan who was actually there?
Still wish you were there? You’d have to endure a flight of several hours and then eat your own bodyweight in barbecued prawns.
The armchair view
Ball-by-ball commentary, including ace facts like service speed and rally records. The ability to watch more than one match at a time without ever leaving your seat. Slow motion replays and close ups that allow you to see the agony on the players’ faces.
Cheltenham Festival (March 10-13)
Cheltenham in the UK is the home of National Hunt racing and every year the Festival is held in the middle of March when the town is jumping. Thousands of Irish racegoers descend on the Cotswold town to see some of the best horses in the world compete for the coveted Gold Cup.
This will be champion jockey Tony McCoy’s last ever Gold Cup. Earlier this year he announced he’d be retiring by the end of the current season after winning more than 4,000 races in his record-breaking career. McCoy will likely be a favourite with bettors, whether online or in the flesh at the Festival.
Indeed, the Festival is massive business when it comes to the gambling.
Still wish you were there? You couldn’t get a bed for the night for love or money and you’d only be allowed to drink Guinness for the duration of your visit.
The armchair view
See the horses run the entire race rather than just catch a glimpse of them as they gallop past the grandstand. Get tips and inside info from the trainers and jockeys in between races. Place your bets online instead of negotiating the Cheltenham Festival crowds and queues at the course.
Masters (April 9 – 12)
Credit: Ed (supergolfdude)
This will be the 79th edition of the Masters Tournament and the first of golf’s four major championships to be played in 2015.
It’s an invitational event and is always played at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
It’s uncertain if Tiger Woods will be playing this year following his recent announcement to take an indefinite break from the sport, but there’ll be plenty of other big names to see including Canada’s own Mike Weir.
But all eyes will be on Rory McIlroy, who has won all the majors except this one.
Still wish you were there? You’d have to be confident in golf chic and be able to pull off pastels, argyle and a baseball cap. At the same time. You’d be doing so much walking, you’d wear out your pedometer.
The armchair view
Thanks to nifty camera work, you can actually follow the ball as it flies through the air. Clever computer graphics help you keep abreast of who is winning. Sweeping shots of the landscape allow you to enjoy the spectacular flora of this beautiful course without enduring the discomfort of hay fever.
Tour de France (July 4 – 26)
Fought over 21 stages and a total of 2,000 miles this is undoubtedly the most gruelling test a cyclist can attempt in the world.
It starts off in 2015 in the Dutch province of Utrecht and winds its way down to the south before an exciting finish in the Champs-Elysees in Paris.
A tour rider can travel around 800 miles a week and reach speeds of up to 60mph on the downhill stretches. He can burn up to 8,000 calories in a single stage.
It is rare that there is a rider who leads the entire tour – sometimes the difference between first place and runner up can be mere seconds.
Still wish you were there? There is nothing to see. Stand along the route for several hours and be rewarded with a blur of bikes careering past you at 40 miles an hour.
Also, few people look good in yellow.
The armchair view
Make like a cyclist and sit on your derriere for the duration of each stage. Keep up your energy levels with high carb snacks. Benefit from snazzy graphics and maps that keep you clued up with all the goings on.