How a Proposed UK Law Will Impact TV Viewing Habits Of Soccer Fans In the USA
Early this past Saturday I woke with a bewildered start to answer the phone. Confusion swiftly became anger; who was calling me at this inhuman hour? Anger turned to realization. It was my alarm. I lay there for a few moments in the pre-dawn chill, wondering if rising was worth it. Manchester United-Everton at 4 AM, then Chelsea-Arsenal at 4:45. “Hell yeah!” as Stone Cold Steve Austin says. And so, I trudged with bleary eyes to the couch. Such is the lot of the Pacific Standard Time zone Premier League watcher.
Since 2007, Americans have rolled their clocks back a week later than in the United Kingdom, so viewers across the country will temporarily have more favorable start times this coming Saturday. But the viewing situation in the States could become much worse if the U.K. approves a proposal to adopt Central European Time for a trial period. The U.K. would be 6-hours ahead of the east coast and 9 hours ahead of the west coast during prime football season.
Proponents of the change in Britain, such as the Football Association, the England and Wales Cricket Board, and Lawn Tennis Association, envision children and adults taking advantage of the extra evening sunlight to play sports or otherwise be active outdoors. Proponents also argue that drivers are less alert in the evening commute than in the morning; thus the extra hour of late afternoon sunlight could reduce road accidents. Scotland is against the change, which is important because Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to not proceed unless all of the United Kingdom agrees.
As I face the loss of my after-work pickup game on Thursdays following this weekend’s clock rollback, it’s not hard to see the benefit of more sunlight during winter evenings. In a bygone era, the consequences of the U.K.’s decision would only effect the home nations, but no longer. If passed, supporters in such major cities as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver would have to arise at, or stay up until, 3:45 AM for the first match of each Saturday’s slate. East coasters would have to shuffle into strongholds like Nevada Smith’s in New York and the Phoenix Landing in Boston at 6:45 AM for such games. This is not good news for ESPN, which currently owns the rights to the early game. The traditional 3 PM matches in England would kick-off at 6AM on the west coast, and for those of us with semi-normal sleeping patterns, there is a world of difference between 6am and 7.
While DVR is more widespread, many people play in leagues on Saturday afternoons or have other commitments. Some might say chuck the whole system of time-meddling. Arizona, Hawaii, Saskatchewan and Puerto Rico survive without moving the hour hand biannually. The Guardian’s Simon Jenkins writes, “…we accept such inanities as putting the clocks back in October as it it were a hallowed medieval ceremony, an autumn ritual of reaping, harvesting, filling barns and raking dead leaves,” in an amusing piece arguing against the current system.
Long time American soccer fanatics have endured much worse than pre-dawn starts to watch the sport they love. After all, who got a good night’s rest during the 2002 World Cup? Moreover, watching at such a barbarically early hour means being able to absorb the action in peace and quiet. And for those at the pubs, early kickoffs provide all the more reason to indulge in a full and proper breakfast to keep warm before the sun rises.