Saturday, March 26, 2016


I watch a ludicrous number of sports on TV for a ridiculous number of hours a gruesome number of days a year.

Numbers! Watch sports even occasionally and you'll be overwhelmed by numbers. Quarterback ratings, on-base percentages, triple-doubles... And everything in tennis, my true love, corresponds with a statistic many of which fly in the face of the reality of the match.

(Btw, I am watching the Miami Open pre-game show as I write this. Tennis Channel is killing it!)

Anyway, I figure I could profitably cut my sports watching in half and apply that time to reading, writing and arithmetic (or perhaps two out of three). Here is how that might look:

Football 70% reduction. Well, I should really give up on football entirely. The concussion problem is real and the league is corrupt and Goodell is a Trump-worthy villain and the two biggest quarterback stars of the past decade are liars. But when fall comes around and there is a close game in a packed bar on a crisp, sunny day, it taps into a lifetime of cozy feelings that fight reason. So for now I'll just watch the home team. I do like that Kirk Cousins... This will leave dozens and dozens of hours for Proust.

Baseball No reduction. The nice thing about baseball is that it's ideal for multi-tasking. I CAN actually read while watching baseball; the sounds of the game, learned over a lifetime, inform you when to look up. You'll almost never miss a home run or a double play or even a steal. And you can put down that book when Scherzer is five innings into another no-hitter. I love baseball and see no reason to adjust my habits here.

Basketball 65% reduction, already in effect. Last year was the first year I watched an entire season of pro ball, and I didn't get what the journos were saying about the lead-up to April. This year I do: There is no reason to watch regular-season basketball. Wait until the playoffs, which go on for months anyway. I'll be watching every Cavs game and maybe a few others. But really it's all about the Cavs. (Oh, and this year I gave up March Madness too. If Georgetown ever makes a serious run again, I'll opt back in.) Result: Several blog posts, several poems, return to a journal.

Golf No reduction. I take a lot of guff for this, but I love watching the majors. This too can be accomplished with a book in hand, and in any case it's only the weekend rounds that really engage. P.S. I have been on a golf course once in my life and remember nothing about it except that I didn't know what I was doing. Proof that you don't need to have played a sport to understand its difficulty, to appreciate the superhuman talent of the athletes, to get into the drama of a close finish/playoff.

Soccer is an every-four-year activity for me. I couldn't love World Cup more and couldn't be less interested in day-to-day league play. Hockey I am immune to. Boxing is only to be watched live, on someone else's
(Remy Martin's) dime. The Olympics well, all bets are off.

And now Tennis 30% reduction, no promises. I think that I could probably give up every tournament between the Australian Open and Indian Wells without too much damage to my equilibrium. And eventually I do grow weary with the long clay court season. But the North American summer hard court season is the most happy-making sporting stretch in the world. Okay, I probably don't have to watch quite so many first- and second-round matches at EVERY tournament. It's just that tennis is the only sport I actually play and the one I really understand inside-out and I probably have seen all Top 100 men and Top 100 women in action... There's just too much water under the bridge to bail out now. And you never know. Perhaps there's still a broadcasting career in my future.

I should get on that. I'm good with numbers.


  1. The clay court season is mandatory watching. Reconsider Robert!

  2. I need no more convincing!

  3. As a non-TV watcher, I can only comment on the radio-friendly sports, which are for me baseball, basketball, and hockey. For different reasons, all of these have maintained a high degree of radio relevance. Baseball, for the historical/statistical elements and stories between moments of action, and the other two for necessarily non-stop reporting of turn of play. I like your take on what you watch and listen to. I'd only suggest you find a local radio broadcast now and then to give your ears something if your eyes or hands crave something else.

    1. I do listen to some sports in the car. Baseball really works. Basketball not at all. I don't think anyone has ever attempted golf...