When I was a kid, summer meant one thing: Wimbledon. Right? You too? My parents loved tennis and the snooty British tennis tournament with its strict rules on tennis whites, strawberries and cream and grass courts was the pinnacle of all they held dear. I only looked forward to it personally because Wimbledon was only televised on HBO. That meant, for three months we got premium cable. Wo hoo! It’s the little things.
Now I am the parent to four little monsters and they will have the same memories. During the year we have about three channels. There is so little to watch that we basically don’t. We watch Netflix reruns of Mission Impossible. The ‘60s TV show not, the Tom Cruise franchise. But during July we get premium cable because the Tour de France is only on NBCSN. There’s so much TV to watch now we’ve been going to bed at midnight and getting up at 5am just to get it all in.
You may scoff at me but, come over and have a croissant and some Beaujolais and let’s fast forward through the commercials (I had to get the DVR model) as we get immersed in five hours of coverage a day for three weeks. I know I’m excited just thinking about it.
It’s like watching the Olympics. You get the back-stories on the villains, the heroes and the contenders and who to care about. As a kid I never watched football or baseball or (gasp) golf unless I had no other choice (I had two older brothers). It served me well as a young sports photographer for the Trib shooting on the sidelines of Three Rivers Stadium. I could care less who won. But, I appreciated the action, which was the sole reason for my access.
The Tour is the big show. It spans the beauty of Northern France, to the high Alps and the streets of Paris. The traveling circus brings the show to the people. No one buys some overpriced ticket to sit and watch. The spectators line public streets and are within touching distance from the riders. Screaming inches from the competitors as they toil. No other sport can boast such intimate access. Granted you have to get to France to appreciate it in person. But, name one other major sporting event that has the chance of happening in your front yard. As long as your yard is in France somewhere on the race route.
So, enjoy your Steelers if you can afford the $20,000 seat license. I’ll bide my time until next year when I am planning to be there in person on the Champs-Élysées for the final sprint after three best weeks of the summer. But, until then I’ll enjoy the greatest show on Earth from my couch until the cable bill comes.