A little over a year ago, I set a goal for myself: I would watch every televised sporting event I could. I watched football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, golf, curling, soccer, figure skating, tennis, synchronized diving, ice dancing, slopestyle snowboarding, and more. As someone becoming interested in professional sports as a kind of personal experiment, I picked my favourite teams based on my current geography: I live in Hamilton, Ontario so I’m a Tiger-Cats fan (CFL), a Blue Jays fan (MLB), a Raptors fan (NBA), a Leafs fan (NHL), a TFC fan (MLS), a Rock fan (NLL), a Wolfpack fan (RFL), a Marlies fan (AHL), a Bulldogs fan (OHL), and a Bills fan (NFL). And because the Olympics are on as I write this I’m also cheering for Team Canada.
I decided to start watching every single game of every sport — I admit that I missed a few — for a couple of reasons.
First, sports are an easy topic of conversation for relative strangers to engage in with each other. Slightly less superficial than a discussion about the weather, engaging in conversations about sports allows for a level of conversational tension, but also keeps things light enough to ensure that no participant in the dialogue leaves it feeling wronged, as sometimes happens during discussions about politics or current events.
Second, having had no interest in professional sports up until last year, I wanted to see if any of them actually interest me beyond the confines of my personal experiment. Surprisingly, after a year of watching just about everything, I find that I like more sports than I had thought I would. I also find that baseball, the sport that I had thought I would like watching the most, because of the sheer number of games played, generally one every day, quickly became monotonous.
It’s always fun to watch your team win, but that excitement disappears when your team is on a losing skid, as the Jays frequently were last season. And unfortunately for me, it wasn’t just the Jays that were having a hard time during my year of sport.
Although the TFC and the Wolfpack both won their respective championships, the Jays, the Bills, and the Tiger-Cats all had relatively underwhelming seasons. Sure, the Bills played in a playoff game for the first time in nearly 20 years, but they lost that game and fell far short of winning the Superbowl, which I watched anyway because my fiancée is a, now deflated, Patriots fan.
To my surprise, during my year of sport I rediscovered my interest in basketball. Since so many people I know dislike the sport, I hadn’t had much time with it since my childhood days playing in gym class. But after making an effort to watch games regularly, I found it to be one of the most exciting televised sports I watched, especially the last two minutes of any close game. Like lacrosse, I really like that basketball uses a shot clock. Having a limited amount of time in which to take a shot promotes taking desperate ones, which usually lead to turnovers and, subsequently, more exciting games.
Now that I’ve finished my experiment, I’m surprised at how quickly the year sped by. I look forward to seeing how the 2018 Olympics play out, especially men’s hockey bereft as it is of NHL players. But beyond these games, I look forward to watching sports casually, the way most people do.
Rather than giving up on a bunch of sports in preference of one that I’ll watch all the time, though, I think I’ll just scale back the number of games I watch. I’ll take the time to watch exciting rivalries play out and ensure that I watch playoff games if any of my teams are in them, but I won’t watch every minute of every game like I did this year. A man needs time to read, watch movies, see friends, and watch re-runs of TV shows on Netflix, after all.
This brings me to a final observation. Because I invested so much time into watching sports, I found that I could easily chat about games with a number of people I had previously had no rapport with, but the downside was that I grew out of touch with some of the things for which I had previously taken more time. Feeling the effect of wearing this shoe on my othered foot, it became harder for me to talk with people who aren’t interested in sports. Not surprisingly, balance is important.
But, having now determined a kind of equilibrium, I’m happy to say that most of my friends haven’t given up on me … now to try to convince them to join my fantasy baseball pool …