Yesterday I was contacted by an F1 fan (Mac) @againstsharedF1 on twitter who also blogs about Formula1. As he’d come across my own posts, he invited me to write for his own blog. It’s the first time I’ve been asked to write for someone else, so I gave it a go and this is what I posted.

I remember when there were only four TV channels available. We would have football shown on a Saturday afternoon (along with the wrestling), and Boxing would be on every Saturday night. Now, if you want to watch a football match or a big fight, you need to remortgage your house, and then, only if you have Sky.

With only Freeview in my house at the moment, I took some comfort in the fact I could at least watch SkySports News to keep up with the scores and top stories. Oh hang on, that went back to Sky too. Actually, it recently became part of one of the subscription packages!

Having only recently become a fan of Formula 1 (the last four years), I have really loved the BBC’s coverage, compared to what we saw on ITV previously. So when I found out that from next season I was only going to be able to watch 10 out of the 20 races, pardon??? Like a lot of you, my initial reaction was not to panic, but to try and calmly work out what this would mean (in pounds and pence).

As I already have broadband with BT, I figured my best and cheapest option would be to replace it and get one of those ‘all in one’ bundles from Sky. Surely it can’t be that much more expensive. However, since the area I live in is ‘outside of their network’ they can not offer me any of their special all-inclusive deals.

My only option then, was to look at the basic Sky+ box, entertainment and sports package, which comes to £40 per month. That’s £480 a year, that I was happily not needing to spend until now. Yes I’d get all the football and other channels too, but really, it feels like my hand is being forced. Putting this into perspective, if the F1 coverage is the only real reason for buying this, and the BBC is showing 10 of the races, then I am effectively paying £48 per race! I don’t think so!

As I tend to see my family on a weekend, I normally watch the races with my parents after Sunday lunch. Hang on, they have Sky, maybe I could just pay them the extra £20 per month for them to top up their subscription. That way me and my dad get to watch the football too? Quick bit of maths and we’re down to £24 per race. Doesn’t sound so bad? Well since this year I get to watch them all for free, then yes, it does!

My main worry would be what would happen next. The last race of the season becomes ‘pay per view’ and before you know it, well, you know where I’m going with this.

Unfortunately, for many people, motor racing, be it bikes or cars, is a sport for those with money. Let’s face it, any kid can kick a ball around the street or on a field and dream of becoming a professional footballer. Boxing gyms are relatively cheap, as are tennis courts and athletics clubs.

To get a start in motor racing means you need money. So is it fair also that we should have lots of money to be able to watch it?

My main gripe about all of this, is that all sports should be free and accessible to everyone that wants to see it. We can’t all be fortunate enough to take part, but that doesn’t mean we should be completely excluded.

All sports play a massively important part of our lives and have a big impact on society. Sport provides hope and inspiration to many people, no more so than with kids. How many times can you remember watching someone (sportsperson/athlete) and being totally blown away by their achievements that it’s spurred you on to do something yourself. Not necessarily in a purely sporting sense but just by their determination
and will to succeed.

Sport provides additional role models (parents should be first), a sense of identity, a competitive spirit and motivation. Therefore having to pay for something which has such a positive influence on peoples lives, to me seems completely ludicrous!

As for next season in Formula 1, what are the alternatives? Going out to find a pub that is showing the race? Unlikely if there’s football on at the same time. Watching on a dodgy web link that cuts out every 10 minutes (so I’ve heard). Paying for Sky, or just make do with the highlights?

If you’re interested to read more on Mac’s blog visit or follow him on Twitter @AgainstSharedF1