Friday, October 14, 2011

On Watching Sports

Those that know me well know that I am a sports fan. Love watching it, love reading about it, love discussing it.  And this past week has afforded me the opportunity to watch one of my favorite teams, the Detroit Tigers, play playoff baseball, and it has been a rare and enjoyable treat.  But as I was watching the games this past week, a couple recurring thoughts, well, occurred to me.

First, I think that watching two teams play a sport you like (or individuals as the case may be) that you have no direct rooting interest for or against, can be a more enjoyable experience than watching a team play that you are passionate about.  With the Tigers this past week, I have been riding high and low multiple times each night depending on swings of the game.  As a fan, you get so wrapped up into the events of the game that you actually feel exhausted after watching.  As opposed to simply watching a game with no rooting interest, you avoid all those swings, you never feel like you have so much riding on an outcome, a play, a player, etc.  You simply sit back and enjoy watching a sport that you like.  I noticed this first a while back when I started watching Colts games with Jackie, and how I was having much more fun, regardless of the outcome, then she was - she was riding high or low depending on how her team was doing, and I was just enjoying watching a football game.

This ties into a second thought.  Sports, for me, are so much more fun (a simple word, but very applicable here) when watching and sharing with others.  Jackie's not much of a baseball fan, and really can't stand to watch it on television.  I don't blame her, baseball is a harder sport to get at times, it has a slower pace, and to understand the tense moments at time one has to get the nuance and cerebral part of the game.  One comes to that understanding through being involved with baseball for many years.  I have, she hasn't.  It's pretty simple.  I mention this because we usually watch games together - its one of the things we share.  We watch football together, sometimes regardless of teams; we watch Michigan State and Purdue basketball.  We enjoy going to sporting events.  But I was watching the Tigers alone.  And while I enjoyed it (primarily because I so rarely get to watch baseball as we have no cable/satellite), it just wasn't quite as good as watching a game with her, my family, or any friend would have been.  For me, I have learned that watching sports is great fun, watching sports as a social event is significantly better.

The third recurring thought I had may be considered somewhat odd in light of the other two, but I think it is related.  I kept thinking to myself with all the hours I was spending this week watching the Tigers, there is something better to be doing with my time.  I quickly remedied this, to some extent, to reading a lot during the games (which is a great advantage of the pace of baseball, and football to some extent, as opposed to basketball, in that it allows for better multi-tasking).  But it was a nagging thought throughout.  Part of this is an old battle I fight with myself.  Almost two years ago, I decided I was spending too much of my time watching college football and that I should be more conscientious of how I spend my time.  I was essentially dedicating every Saturday during the Fall to a chair and football.  And I enjoyed it, but I wanted to do something that would be both enjoyable and productive; which, with my personality, would make me enjoy it more.  Without digressing too much here, the point of that decision, and of the constant battle, is that while I like sports, I want to make sure that I am utilizing my time accomplishing things I feel are important - reading and becoming more knowledgeable about certain disciplines, spending time with friends and family, being involved in the community.  If watching sports can compliment and enhance those objectives at times, awesome.  If not, then I need to realize that there will always be another game, there may not be another opportunity to "better" myself, so to speak.

This has led me to attempt to make sure that I never forsake an opportunity because I want to watch a sporting event (there may be exceptions, World Series for one, NCAA championship for another, and of course if the Lions ever made a Super Bowl).  When watching sports can become something Jackie and I do together, it reinforces parts of our relationship and friendship.  When its something that can be done with friends, it reinforces community.  When it something that can be done with family, it can create and reinforce bonds.  Those are the goals.  It is also a goal to avoid watching sports when it becomes isolating.

I find it is a delicate balance that I continue to try and manage.  I really do enjoy watching sports, it's kind of like an immediate high.  I just have to pause and remind myself that in reality, watching in isolation is simply okay, making it a share-able event with others is exponentially better, and ultimately more fulfilling.  So, while I hope the Tigers keep playing and make a full comeback in the series against the Rangers, and while I hope Michigan State beats Michigan again this weekend, I will be waging that little battle in myself, doing my best to ensure certain opportunities are not missed.