(Writer’s note – it quickly became apparent that this would be a two-part blog posting. Years of sporting disappointments as highly anticipated events were ruined from an incredibly high variety of sources meant that one would not nearly be enough!
Part 2 will include a ranking of the ‘Top 10 broken media bans’ from myself and readers. So get your ‘pens’ ready…
By the way, none of the following quotes relate directly to the subsequent paragraph. They’re merely a compilation of some of the ‘help’ I’ve received from friends over the years. I would like to say that it’s been therapeutic, but it really hasn’t been…)
‘I won’t say anything … but you’ll en-joy it!’
One of the best elements of this year’s NBA Finals and the AFL final series was not having to go to extraordinary lengths in order to avoid the results before watching the recorded game.
It’s hard enough avoiding Australian results, as so many people are into it, but a greater problem of following an American sport is that the games generally occur during working hours. Unless it’s a major event and you are willing to make a sacrifice of integrity, you have to try and get through a number of hours without hearing any chatter regarding the result; in person, through the media, by phone or online.
Not only it is extremely difficult in this day and age of instant media and global connectivity, but the people factor makes it far more hazardous. Because you can do all the right things but, as George Costanza once bemoaned, ‘You know we’re living in a society?!’
‘I see the NBA title has headed to Texas…’
As a good friend often reminds me as we assess our economic and consumerist behaviours, people are stupid. There are countless times, more than I can remember, where, having come face to face with someone and pleaded with them not to say anything about a sporting event I am yet to witness, a blatant, sly or ‘helpful’ comment all but leaves the viewing occasion pointless.
You see, people feel as if we are smarter than we actually are. If I tell a friend I am yet to see a game between Man United and Chelsea and he says with a grin, ‘Oh, you get killed in that one!’, I of course know that we don’t get killed, and in all probability, will get the win.
‘Oh, you don’t know the result … I won’t say anything. Good game… GO BLUES!’
Having been overseas and missed the 2003 AFL Brownlow Medal (yes – these things are not quickly forgotten), friends ‘gave away’ who won, of course leaving me knowing that none of the players they mentioned would actually win it. This in turn detracted from one of the best Brownlow counts in history.
In trying to add to the viewing occasion, they become a part of it, as you end up reading them; their words, intentions and behaviours, rather than simply settling down to enjoy the show.
Phone call from Shanghai to Melbourne to my mum, who knows ab-so-lute-ly nothing about soccer
Mum: What are you up to?
Me: Just watching a World Cup game from last night, Sweden-Norway.
Mum: Oh, Sweden win that 2-0…
For the most part, the best strategy to cope with media bans is to ‘drop off the grid’. Turn your phone off, do not check emails and simply be technologically unavailable for a period of time.
This can be challenging if you have kids, but if you leave your significant other/s with landline contact numbers or the numbers of friends who aren’t going to the ridiculous lengths that you are, you can get away with it!
Text message received soon after Game 1 of the highly anticipated NBA Finals series between Boston and LA
‘Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!’ (Gee, I wonder if we lost.)
There are other strategies you can implement, some of them I’m not too proud of. I work at a school where countless people know I’m into basketball. After the text messaging disaster (see above; you know who you are), the following year when my Lakers were again in the Finals, I headed straight to the men’s room after school ended on the day of Game 1 and stayed there a good 15 minutes. When there’s a will, there’s a way.
For the record, there is generally a certain amount of grace you offer to people who make mistakes in this realm. You can’t genuinely blame them for bringing up a topic that they know you’re interested in; they’re making an effort. It’s those that go on after you indicate that you want nothing said that can drive you crazy!
Watching a delayed telecast of Game 6 of a hotly contested NBA Conference Finals series, at 3-2. On one of the ad breaks, ESPN put up an ad for Game 7. Um, I wonder if the team on 3 wins won the game and closed out the series 4-2. Guess not…
By the way, I can’t say that I am blameless in this field. I have made errors, including the texting of a friend soon after a ‘Survivor’ finale. My bad; thought she was watching it ‘live’. There’s also a text I sent a friend immediately after I’d watched a delayed telecast of a huge LA-Boston Finals game that we blew. I can’t repeat what I said. I was angry. I’m not proud. My friend Was Not Happy.
Fate slapped me back for those stuff ups when an eagerly watched series of ‘The Amazing Race’ with Boston Rob and Amber was ruined early on when a friend told me she knew who didn’t win… Who, the only 2 celebrities in it who’s names everybody knows??
Start of a radio news telecast on the night of the SuperBowl
Presenter (in a very disappointed tone): ‘Ben Graham’s hope of becoming the first Australian to win a SuperBowl…’
(Radio switched off, writer repeatedly headbutts car dashboard for own stupidity in forgetting to shut off radio before heading to friend’s to watch game.)
So, it was nice to approach the last few months differently and banter along with people who were contacting me during or soon after games, unpacking results or ‘rubbing it in’ (the worst kind), disseminating consequences in real time. It was relieving to go without the pressure of having to have so many things go perfectly in order to enjoy a simple sporting event.
Yes, this will make it harder when (not ‘if’!) I ‘go back’ and need their silence again.
But that’s a problem for another time.
And to finish…
Wedding after the MC gave game scores for a Bombers final (during which I shamelessly covered my ears and hummed/’la la lahhhed’ to myself.)
Me to groom: Congratulations, mate! This has been an awesome day!
Groom: How shattered are you about the Bombers!?
Later this week will be part 2 – the ‘greatest’ broken media bans of all time.
With or without you, I’ll have a top 10, but I know there are stories out there as ‘good’ or better than mine, so submit your greatest one’s right away and we can share in our lamenting.