Are We Clear? Crystal.

By Chris

Obvious statement: Sporting events look much, much better on a TV with an HD feed.

Once you’ve watched hockey or baseball in 1080i or even 780i, it’s tough to go back to the small letterbox format. So when the free previews come around for the Center Ice or Extra Innings packages, why would you want to watch the games in anything other than HD?

I’ve got cable in my roost which means with my provider, only one game on each package is broadcast in HD-quality. Baseball and hockey share an HD channel, which means some nights I can only watch one of those sports in high-def. And if a team in your local market is scheduled for that HD channel, then you’re blacked out completely there.

I know some satellite providers offer all the games in HD and the easy answer is to switch. But with the exception of this one huge problem, I’m OK with the service.

Hockey in standard definition stinks on a television built to show images at a higher resolution. Why pay an exorbitant amount of money to watch all the games when the quality is significantly less than desired?

That’s a big reason why I didn’t buy Center Ice this year. The other is that I’m not home most nights, but that one is on me. If I want to come home and watch a West Coast NHL game, most likely I’ll choose the one on the HD channel even if the game on the regular SD channel is better. Sometimes it matters that much. Now I’d still watch Sabres road games in past seasons when they were blurry and shrunken, but it doesn’t mean I enjoyed it that much. Now, look at us, we’re spoiled with 1080i for 82 games a year.

It’s why I’ve watched more NBA this season than I have in the last six years combined. I don’t have Center Ice so when the Sabres aren’t on or there isn’t a game on Versus (which looks great in HD), there are usually HD games on any one of TNT, ESPN or MSG. In a lot of ways, like the NBA itself, it’s style over substance.

Even the Discovery Channel is 1,0000 times better in HD. I wouldn’t find myself watching bits of “Planet Earth” otherwise. Nature lends itself well to looking, well, natural. The outfield in a baseball park has the same mesmerizing effect when you look at it on a big, crisp screen.

There are bigger problems in the world, for sure, but these little things add up. I’ll also have some extra money in the bank account adding up until all the games are in high definition. They won’t get extra money from me until then.