Friday, September 28, 2007

TV Sports

I’ve never really understood the allure of watching sports on television.

I do have some fond memories of watching the ABC Wide World of Sports each week with my dad--mostly I wanted to see the poor ski jumper wipe out again, “the agony of defeat” indeed. We also watched stock car racing quite a bit--but as neither of these pastimes survived my passage into adulthood, I suspect I was mostly interested just because these were Dad’s passions.

I’ve also enjoying watching TV sports at times, primarily the Winter Olympics--downhill skiing and ice skating especially. Summer Olympics not so much, except for gymnastics. Tennis can be interesting, watching from above, noting the chess like strategy of the shots, striving to move an opponent to a difficult position. At the same time, it’s never been something I made a point to watch. From time to time I’ve followed baseball, but each time I’ve quickly fallen away.

TV just doesn’t capture the real skill of the players. Once, visiting a friend in Chicago, I went to a Cubs game. We sat just over the dugout and watched a relief pitcher casually warming up. Nice, slow, relaxed toss--and the ball goes flying like a rocket in a straight line several dozen feet, neatly into the catcher’s glove. Amazing. Those outfield catches and double plays? A ball shooting like lightning hundreds of feet in perfectly straight lines in must a second. These are professional athletes. You don’t get that perspective on TV.

So I’m just not the stereotypical sports fan, sitting in a Lazy Boy with chips and beer, proclaiming “We’re #1!” I’d rather get out and be active myself.

Football just seems to be wait, wait, wait, line up, run into each other for a second, fall down. Basketball means endlessly running up and down a court. Hockey seems to be furiously skating around, hitting each other with sticks whenever possible. Boxing just seems brutal.

I can at least understand why others might want to watch these, but other TV sports mystify me completely. Golf, for example--walking, teeing, looking up the course, addressing the ball, a swing, then watching sky sky sky sky sky, bounce bounce bounce bounce bounce. Repeat. Or fishing. It’s a guy or two in a boat casting line into the water. What’s to see for half an hour?

At the same time, I’ve watched engaging movies about all of these sports--even on the small screen. What’s the difference? Of course, movies can spend more time setting up effective filming angles, and of course, feature a carefully crafted, scripted story. Regular sports fans, engrossed in a team’s fortunes, probably see more of a story.

Or perhaps I’m just a loner who prefers quiet time to think. I’d rather hike in the mountains than walk around a golf course, explore the waterways in a kayak than sit in a canoe with rod and reel.

Or maybe I just like a good story.


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