TELEVISION offers us an enormous variety of entertainment from which to choose, but there's no doubt that at this time of year, there's only one genre worth investing in: the footy. At the pointy end of the different codes' seasons, football dominates the TV landscape, and other fine programs such as Don't Tell the Bride and I Will Survive seem almost insignificant compared with the brutal drama unfolding on the playing fields.
TV sport is, of course, big business - snaring the rights to the AFL or NRL is a major coup for a network, and these days costs them an obscene amount of money, which they happily lay out for the benefit of a ready-made audience. When you've got the football, you don't have to worry about attracting viewers with hype and publicity campaigns and horrible, horrible lies about a show being watchable. It's the footy, and if they want to see the footy, they're going to have to watch your channel. And a lot of people want to watch the footy. In fact, in many ways, Australians are quite keen on football, as a people.
There is no doubt modern TV football coverage has come a long way from the days when televised football looked like home-video footage of Bigfoot.
But the slick, multi-angle, slow-mo, close-up, goalpost-camera era in which we live now is by no means perfect. Because no matter what year it's taking place in, football coverage exists under the same shadow: commentators.
Channel Nine's NRL commentary team has reached the point where they consider the sport to be first and foremost a vehicle for Ray Warren and Phil Gould's bickering husband-and-wife comedy act. It can be grating, when watching a tense final, to have these elderly Honeymooners yammering at you. It's bad enough listening to Gould's constant calls for the rules of the game to be suspended, and Warren's random guesswork as to what's actually happening.
Sometimes it seems a mistake to have inserted a football game into the middle of the gambling ads in the first place.
Not that the AFL is perfect. Channel Seven's wide array of ex-players present a skilful blend of the bleeding obvious, disgust at umpires and incomprehensible reflections on biomechanics.
And then there's Brian Taylor, who appears to be furious with the viewer, the way he keeps shouting at us, and who assumes we can't actually see the game: ''Look at this!'' he bellowed during a recent game. Good idea, Brian! Dennis Cometti is marvellous, but there are times when one can see him writing his puns down the night before. Someone needs to tell him: ''Dennis, there's a fine line between a witty commentator, and Kathy Lette.''
Which leaves rugby union, which has a good band of enthusiastic commentators whose only fault is the tendency to call every game in the fashion of a band of screaming spectators on their fifth beer. Of course, as an Australian I'm happy to hear them cheer on the Wallabies and denounce everything as a dark referees' conspiracy against us, but I imagine for other nationalities it gets a bit wearing.
But then, the bias and the hysteria and the incompetence and the bookmaker-shilling is all part of the glorious world of football, isn't it? We wouldn't have it any other way.
Though, on second thoughts, I might try netball.