This happened quickly!
As I was talking to a good friend today about my sabbatical from sport (to friends who don’t really watch sport, I’m starting to come out – slowly…) [insert ‘coming out’ related gag here _____ ], I realised that today marks my first month without watching any sport whatsoever.
In this time, I have missed four full rounds of the AFL football, the entire NBA Finals and Conference Finals, a Champions League Final epic between Man United and Barcelona, as well as the final game of the title-clinching English Premier League season.
And it hasn’t been that hard.
An earlier post about the Dallas Mavs winning the NBA title could position me as a bald-faced liar in this respect, and yes, in the moment of the finals themselves, it was challenging, especially with the Cinderella Mavs claiming their first ever title. [Go on, read the ‘Missing out on the NBA Finals’ post and see what a fraud I am!] But, much like the media, cycle, I too moved on within a couple of days.
Bigger picture; my life is none the worse from having missed seeing any of the above events. It is vastly better.
The pressure of planning my evenings around sporting options is gone. My weekends and weekend nights are significantly freer and I am not feeling like I am constantly accessing banal sporting media in a vain attempt to keep up.
On the flip side, there have been a number of events I’ve been a part of that would not have been an option if AFL, NBA etc were at the forefront of my mind. From multiple day or night coffees with friends and family (‘coffee the stimulant’ – why wasn’t I told!?), to a great party which I would normally not have attended – it clashed with a top AFL match that was being shown on a Saturday night, I have clearly benefited from a more open and less precious perspective regarding my down time.
I also got to witness what it can look like when someone is immersed in a sporting event no one else cares about. (So this is what anti-wrestling people feel…) A couple of weeks ago, we had a few people back for a rousing night. Good Thai food, great nibbles, nice drinks, desserts – tick.
A friend was plonked on the couch watching a game he and I would ordinarily both be interested in. As he still ‘doesn’t know’, I tried as best I could to talk around my non-appearance on the couch. Hey, there were people to entertain and all… Interacting with a whole bunch of people, new and old friends, made for a top night. Seeing him disengaged from most of that affirmed my decision all the more. My friend has not near the same emphasis on sport as I do/did and in no way is that a slight on him; in the end, the party ‘came to him’. But it reflected on me what I could be and have been missing out on by being so connected to the tv.
The challenge remains as to how to stay connected to my mates, with whom sport is the driver. It has got me to wondering about how I can engage with these guys if one month becomes two, three or four; even twelve. How can I communicate that they are still important to me whilst opting out of every sporting function there is.
I see this coming to a head at some stage. Might I need to relinquish the ‘need’ for this to go 12 months? Who wins if I drop off the map entirely in order to reach this goal, damaging relationships in the process…? All good things to consider.
But for now, I take heart in the first month, maybe of many, and simply be glad that I don’t have to make any token gestures about ‘how great it’s been’ or plan any big dinners, buy flowers … ‘I think this could be the one!’