Watching sports vs adventure holidays: Is taking part better than observing?

Aug 08, 2019 BY Paul McWilliams

How do you compare watching sports vs adventure holidays? Is there a way to accurately measure the thrill of seeing your team lift the Champions League trophy with the sheer exhilaration of jumping from a plane attached to a flimsy parachute?

skydiving and airshow over city of Chicago USA watching sports vs adventure holidays Pixabay royalty free image

There’s no denying that both are unique experiences – and potentially life changing. But which is better? And does it matter? Well, the answer is yes and no. We’ll get to that in good time. Let’s start at the beginning. 

The power of sporting narratives

Anyone who remembers watching the England cricket team for much of the 1980s, all of the 90s and big part of the 00s knows that it was a bit of a drag – to say the least. It was a relentless pummelling at the hands of the West Indians, then the Australians, then India and South Africa. And then the Australians again for good measure. 

Fast forward to 2019 and the England team reached the cricket world cup final. And through a series of simply astonishing events – culminating in the cricketing equivalent of a penalty shoot out – they drew but England won on number of boundaries scored. The preceding three decades seem to melt away.

England football fans know only too well about 30 (and now closer to 60) years of hurt. Despite the brief excitement of 2018’s World Cup semi-final, there has been little to cheer about. But when it does happen, and England finally win the world cup again, just imagine the feeling. 

That is why watching sport is so enthralling. It’s not just the one off contests (although these can be exceptional) it’s also a personal journey.

The hours you have put in watching the qualifiers, travelling to games, spilling your beer as the celebrations get out of hand in the pub. Travelling the world to attend all your favourite games means so much to fans.

Watching sport: Live vs TV

Watching the game in the comfort of your own home with friends or family, or maybe the local pub, can be great fun. It’s certainly more affordable and more convenient. But you don’t get the same atmosphere as being live in the stadium (even if the multiple camera angles and slow motion replays mean the action is more visible).

Watching sports vs adventure holidays Is taking part better than observing pixabay royalty free image of Barcelona Camp Nou

Going to see your team or favourite sports star in the flesh offers a different kind of experience. You can really feel the athleticism and visceral power of world class athlete as they run, hit or jump. It’s an incredible spectacle. 

Great sporting events like the Olympics and the Football World Cup only come around every four years. Being there in person to see watch is a special event in itself.

If you’re lucky enough to see something spectacular – a Usain Bolt world record, a Lionel Messi hattrick – there are few things in life that can compare. But…. and there is a but…can it ever really compare to doing something for yourself?

Watching sports vs adventure holidays

While it’s true that watching your team can induce a physiological response – anxiety, sweating, joy, even tears – these are emotional states. It’s only when you are experiencing the action for yourself that the really big physical responses can happen.

Freestyle a popular type of snowboarding snowboarding royalty and copyright free image by pxhere

The euphoria of landing a big jump for the first time on your snowboard. The terror turning to adrenaline of a first skydive. It’s one thing to live vicariously through five, 11 or 15 other sportsmen or women but nothing can really compare with being at the heart of it all yourself.

Of course, we’re not all going to be lucky or talented enough to play in a major football final. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic still seem to have tennis pretty well sewn up. You might not have the physical attributes to play in the NBA. But, adventure holidays give you the chance to be the star of your own story.

Why having your own adventures matters

As Eleanor Roosevelt once stated: ‘The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.’

It’s only through trying new things that we get to learn about ourselves and grow as people. Only by pushing yourself to the limit can you find out how far you can go.

watching sports vs adventure holidays pixabay royalty free image of hiking in Chiang Rai thailand

We all crave adventure but sometimes that little voice in our head says ‘no’ before we even try. In a survey carried out by the Ford motor company, 42% of adults were unable to remember the last time they tried something new. So, in a world where we are losing our sense of adventure, it might be time to get out there and have one for yourself. 

Adventure holidays provide the perfect opportunity for this. Taking some time out and away from your ordinary routine allows you to focus your energies, without the background noise of everyday life. Take to the Alps for a skiing, hiking, biking or climbing holiday. Use guides and instructors to build technique in a safe and controlled way. 

Hit the water on a diving, surfing, kiteboarding or windsurfing break. Or go on great family adventures. Perhaps try your hand at something more extreme. Skydiving, bungee jumping, even the bobsleigh – these are activities that really make you feel alive. 

Watching sports vs adventure holidays: A happy medium

Of course, as with most things in life, there is a happy medium. Not all adventures have to be extreme. You don’t have to throw yourself out of a plane to experience something new. Having an adventure just involves getting out of your comfort zone and doing something you wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Making action sports better for the environment Pixabay royalty free image of kayaking in Canada

That can involve combining both your love of watching sport with an adventure holiday. It’s one thing sitting in front of your TV watching the match with a cold beer. It’s another thing entirely to put on your team’s jersey and set out across the world to watch them triumph. And if you’re going to do it, why not do some adventure sports along the way?

There’s no way to accurately score or scientifically compare watching sports vs adventure holidays. They offer different kinds of thrills. One is not better than the other. But if you find yourself only ever being a spectator in life, then maybe it’s time to get involved?

Want to get some adventure in your life? Then check out these action sport holiday discounts.


Bungee Jumping, Kitesurfing, Multi Activity, Overlanding, Rock Climbing, Scuba Diving, Skiing, Skydiving, Snowboarding, Surfing, Windsurfing
Basketball, Cricket, football, Olympics, Tennis, World Cup

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