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What is the best time zone for sports fans?

When Sir Sandford Fleming proposed worldwide time zones in 1879, the Scottish-Canadian inventor probably wasn’t thinking of sports. Fast-forward 138 years and this is a serious concern. Each region had its own pros and cons, which means it’s time to finally settle the argument: Which time zone is the best for watching sports?

For the purposes of this argument, we’re going to be focusing on the six U.S. time zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, Western, Hawaii, and Alaska. Here are our final rankings after much discussion:

  1. Mountain.
  2. Central.
  3. Alaskan.
  4. Eastern.
  5. Hawaiian.
  6. Pacific.

What follows is a discussion of how we reached these rankings.

Mark Hinog: I have Central No.1 (obviously).

James Dator: Hold up, what? Hawaii is definitely No. 1. You get morning NFL, west Coast NBA starts as soon as you get home from work. It’s perfect.

MH: My reasoning for central time zone as No. 1:

It makes NFL Sundays easy to compartmentalize, schedule-wise. You get a whole morning to set things up, and then from noon to 10, you get an entire slate of football that finishes just before a reasonable bedtime. Should you choose to watch all your locally televised games from start to finish, you can get a good night's rest after Sunday Night Football. This is also fitting for most college football games.

NBA and NHL have similar setups, but West Coast games tend to end after midnight.

Downside to Central Time Zone: Not getting up early enough to watch Premier League games, and NFL London games are a little too early.

JD: Premier League is a big problem with Hawaii, but it's an acceptable sacrifice. I just don't feel like deviating one hour from standard makes THAT much of a difference. NFL games starting at 7 a.m. Think about it. You finish the entire dang football day by 7 p.m., meaning you still have time for an evening swim or going out to dinner.

One extra hour is a convenience. FIVE extra hours lets you convert standard hours you'd be at home anyway into sports hours.

MH: I would credit Hawaii time for making it easier to get through Warriors games. But I also think you have to consider energy into this.

I don't think I wanna get up at 7 a.m. for NFL games. I got up at 7 for an NFL London game and it felt weird, like there's a whole group of people in another part of the world that is more energetic at 1 p.m. their time than I do at 7 in the morning.

JD: OK, that's fair. I'm still struggling with Central No. 1. I live on the East Coast. Sports can be tough time wise. I can't imagine one hour making all the difference to me. At the same time, I don't want to split the difference and say Mountain time ... unless, wait ... is Mountain time the best?

  • NFL starts at 11.
  • East coast NBA starts when you get home from work
  • West coast NBA finishes early enough to get sleep.
  • Premier League isn't outside the realm of possibility.

MH: Yeah. Mountain time is No. 1. Sorry, most of the midwest — two extra hours away from the East Coast sounds nicer than one hour.

JD: I’m willing to give Central a solid two seed here. You sold me. So let’s talk No. 3. I think I’m leaning towards Alaska. It splits the difference between being too early and still giving you a full day.

MH: Alaskan time zone is weird, because you can only be in Alaska for it. I'm going to assume most Alaskans are Seahawks fans due to its proximity to Seattle. So it's a bit like Pacific Time Zone Jr., but connected by Seahawks fandom.

JD: But you get to be a West Coast fan and basically keep Central time. That’s pretty sweet. This is feeling like a battle between East and West for which is worst, to be honest.

MH: Eastern time zone is fine, until you get to the 10 p.m. hour during a game. Then you just feel anxious about staying up so late to watch the Warriors.

JD: I have no specific problem with Eastern time other than late-night NBA. But also that can be fun sometimes because everyone is tired the next day with you. It’s solidarity.

Now we have Hawaii and Pacific. Man, Hawaiian time fell for me, but you’re right. It’s just too dang early. Honestly, I have a hard time coming up with a single reason why Pacific is better though.

MH: I will give the Pacific time zone credit for being the proper area to be in to watch the current best team in the NBA, and being an alright place for watching sports in general. Other than that, I would rather watch my primetime TV shows at the same time as the East Coast, because I will get FOMO so bad.

JD: I think this is the list. Congrats, Mountain time.