Live sport is, in my humble opinion, one of the most exciting things in the world. There’s something about having no control over events that turns the mind into a thick, disorientating soup of panic and nerves and calm and sometimes even vague nausea. And yet, we still shout at the telly as if the figures on the screen will take our advice on board and magically become better at their jobs — as if we’re on the sidelines barking orders. You have the drama of the commentators shouting at big moments, perhaps watching with the same wonder and amazement as the average fan. It puts you through the wringer, but you ‘leave’ thoroughly entertained.

Just Another Sunday …

Perhaps the most important aspect of live sport is its potential to inspire. I know this from my own experience. I used to be ambivalent at best towards cricket. I’d played it a little in PE and in the back garden, but it never really grabbed my attention the way football did. I didn’t grow up wanting to be Jimmy Anderson or Paul Collingwood, but rather Manuel Neuer or Wojciech Szczesny. That all changed just over four years ago. Something happened that made me fall in love with the game.

To me, July 14, 2019, seemed like just another Sunday. As far as I was aware, not being particularly interested in either cricket or tennis, nothing special was happening. The most pressing thing on my mind was probably having school the next morning. At around five o’clock, I decided to turn on the TV and see whether anything good was on and stumbled upon the Cricket World Cup final on Channel 4.

By the end of the game, I was pacing around the sofa, adrenaline and nerves coursing through my system at a deafening rate.

That game, and the Miracle of Headingley not long after, turned me into a cricket obsessive. For a while, I was a very easy person to buy for: just get me a new cricket book and I would be happy. I joined a local club soon after, and to this day I still play almost every Saturday in the summer. Cricket has become a part of me all because it was on free-to-air TV. Had Sky not done a deal with Channel 4 to show the final on terrestrial television, there is little chance that cricket would feature in this article.

Young People Need Access Not A Paywall

Live sport, whatever it may be, is a catalyst for young people to get active. Reason dictates that if you remove barriers that stop people from watching it, more of us are likely to get active. This is important when you consider that 23.4 per cent of Year 6 pupils were ‘living with obesity’ in the 2021/22 school year. Clearly, kids need an incentive to get fit and live sport is a great way to acquire a taste for exercise. The benefits of regular exercise to mental health cannot be overstated — so why are we keeping sport behind a paywall? Why are we stopping young people from wanting to be fitter?

Yes, the quality of Sky Sports’ coverage is extremely high compared to what you will get on free-to-air channels. But a slightly less polished broadcast is worth it if it means being able to watch your favourite sports without a price tag.

Free-to-air sport opens a world of possibilities for young people. Give us a chance to find something we love and a fantastic community alongside it. Local sports clubs are where memories can be made, friendships forged, and skills developed. It’s time to give back to the people — especially those who haven’t the means to pay for a subscription: the Youth.

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