I keep losing large blocks of time I don’t have on Saturdays. Sometimes it happens on Fridays and on rare occasions on Thursdays.
There are two college football teams I care about, and I try to figure out a way to watch their games each week without spending anytime doing it. I can tell you clearly, up front, that I don’t have eight hours to watch football each week. I have far too much grown-up stuff on my plate for that.
(It’s important I tell you this because our society has wisely decided that only very busy people are of worth, so I want it understood that I’m scheduled to the max.)
I record both games on the DVR, but usually I think that I’ll just turn on the game and have it going in the background. I can watch it while I do the dishes, fold the laundry or mow the lawn, I tell myself.
For those of you who are not familiar with college football, they have this thing called the “snap,” and after that happens, they give the ball to one guy who tries to quickly give it away to someone on his team or run very fast to the end zone. It’s all that sudden movement and drama that draws me into the game.
One problem you run into when you try not to watch football on TV is that if you do, even for a few minutes, the team quickly grows dependent upon you. It was humor columnist Dave Barry who first articulated that fact that "concern-rays" from a guy’s forehead can change the outcome of a game. This is so true, but it is a heavy burden to bear.
(I often wondered if forehead concern-rays are less effective if you are watching a game you recorded that’s already over. I believe they are because concern-rays are not limited to the usual time-space continuum. Sort of like Congress and deadlines.)
I have some friends who on principle won’t watch college football on TV. They say that universities give special treatment to athletes and that more money should be spent on math competitions and philosophy debates. I think they forget one important thing. I don’t believe many of those players we watch on television are actually students or perhaps even people. (I’ve heard sports commentators call some of them “machines.”)
I live in a college town and almost never see football players around town. And yes, I know that they don’t always wear their uniforms when they are off the field, but I don’t see athletes carrying helmets or even footballs, for that matter.
When I was in college 100 years ago, I did see one of the stars of the basketball team, Fred Roberts, walking across campus. I didn’t let the opportunity go by. I ran up to him.
“Fred! Hey, man. How are you?” I said as if we were old friends.
“Ah, fine," he said, and I could tell he was trying to figure out if he knew me.
“You don’t remember me, do you?” I said.
“Well, I’m trying to remember ” he said, trailing off.
“At the last game, I was the guy three rows from the top who kept going like this,” and I pumped my fists in the air and made some kind of victorious-grunting noise.
His face broke into a smile and he said, “Yeah, I thought you looked familiar.”
Now, there would be no chance an athlete would remember me if I saw him or her after a game because I don’t get to go to games anymore. They cost money and I haven’t had any money since I was in college, working part time at a minimum-wage job.
Each week I get sucked into the games, even though I try to do other important things I would have to do anyway at the same time. My wife gets into the games, too. At least, I know she yells a lot. She doesn’t like the idea of me mowing the lawn during commercials because she says that I track grass into the house.
Sometimes she even chases me out of the house, giving me a chance to practice some of the quarterback moves I’ve just been watching on TV. It’s hard because I know that if I fumble the remote, she’ll take it away and throw it under the still-running lawn mower. That would be sad because if she did, I won’t be there for the team when they need me most. (I don’t think you can operate TVs anymore without remotes.)
We live on a busy street, and I worry that some will find this scrambling routine so entertaining that they’ll just stand on the sidewalk placing bets on whether I will escape or the remote will die. They’ll miss the real game in the stadium. The opportunity to watch a high-performance athlete, who is mostly human, risking his life under threatening circumstances for free may draw them away from the things that matter most — the real games.
And when it comes to this athlete, you can be sure I’m getting no special treatment for my efforts. Just the satisfaction of knowing, no matter what the risk, I will be there for his team. So even if I do watch some football on TV, you now know I’m important because I’m busy saving the team and you should be doing the same.
Let’s raise our fists in the air and do a victorious grunt together.
Steve Eaton lives and works in Logan, Utah. He can be reached at Eatonnews@gmail.com