There's a time for everything in this world. There is a time for beer, a time for hot wings, and a time for watching sports in a bar, screaming at a screen alongside a bunch of strangers in matching jerseys. There's also a time when the best way to watch football is in the comfort of your own home, the football-viewing kingdom in which you are the undisputed monarch.
The good news is that two-thousand years of tireless human effort has finally culminated in a home viewing experience about as perfect as it could possibly be. With social media, TV screens big enough to be seen from space, and tools like NFL on Xbox One, you are finally free to watch sports in your underwear without having to sacrifice the social aspect of the bar or the visceral experience of the stadium.
It's Good to Be in Charge
No matter how much fun the sports bar can be, there are comforts that are unique to your own living room. For one, there's the Homer Simpson-sized indent in your sofa cushion that's taken you years to cultivate. There's also the freedom to select your own preferred snack food and drinks, and you don't have to share your popcorn if you don't want to. .
Most importantly, the borders of your living room are controlled by you alone, open only to those you deem worthy. That means that, you can refuse entry to those people whose habit is to yell pointlessly at the TV, those who opine pompously how much smarter they are than the coaching staff, and, maybe worst of all, over-enthusiastic types who stand to applaud every three-yard carry. (Bonus: if you're the culprit of any or all of those behaviors, you are can choose to surround yourself with people who won't call you out on it.)
Finally, on days when you know the game will require your full, undivided attention, your living room is the perfect place to lock the doors, light some candles, and watch alone. It doesn't mean you're anti-social. You're just taking your game seriously.
When Bars Break Bad
It's not like sports bars are all bad. They have their moments. When you're in the mood for it, nothing replaces the special feeling that comes from openly weeping at victory with a total stranger who truly understands the deep source from which your tears flow.
But there are aspects of watching sports in a bar that can be less than ideal. It's loud. No one's paying attention. You have to deal with surly bartenders and rowdy patrons, and you're not in charge of the remote control, all of which make it difficult to do the one thing you're there to do in the first place. Which is, you know, actually watch football.
Plus, if you're trying to keep up with your fantasy team, there are other complications. Being a diligent fantasy owner out in public means staying hunched over your phone, the battery draining by the second. And that's before someone sloshes their beer all over it.
Look, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Other times you just want to watch the game on your own terms.
Home is Where the Xbox Is
Now, thanks to the wonders of technology, you can have nearly godlike control over your football experience right from the comfort of your couch. With NFL on Xbox One, you can put away your phone and laptop and stay abreast of everything that's happening right on your TV.
For fantasy players, the fantasy channels in the app let you manage your multiple fantasy leagues and teams, with highlights and analysis tailored to your preferences. If you're a subscriber, you can stream the NFL RedZone Channel and DirecTV Sunday Ticket directly through your console. Plus, being by yourself doesn't mean you're really alone anymore, since Xbox keeps you connected to all your online friends (and fantasy football nemeses). Because it's all on your Xbox, you can use the app side-by-side with live games as they come in through your cable feed. The only details that will manage to slip by you are the ones you don't care about anyway. Just don't let your new-found omniscience go to your head.
It's now easier than ever to be the all-powerful overlord of all the sports you survey without having to venture out into the world and face the riff-raff. And, hey, it's your call: if you do you find yourself in a mood for riff-raff, the NFL on Xbox One app will keep all your updates queued up and ready for you when you get home. Tell us what you think. Is there an intrinsic joy to public sports-watching that we've missed? Is watching football alone in your living room one of life's most important pleasures? The comments are open, so have at it.
Craig Lowell has written for Sports Illustrated, The Fan Hub, The Sports Post, NBA Entertainment, and the North Adams Transcript. Follow him on Twitter @craigrlowell.