Watching Sports to Escape Real World

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My near-total hiatus from watching sports has ended. It began during the pandemic, when seasons were truncated, games played in nearly empty stadiums or arenas, and watching highly paid sports figures seemed beside the point, as our world turned upside down. Now I am back to avidly watching the Texas Longhorns who are having a stellar season, rooting for the Rangers during the World Series, and watching the Kansas City Chiefs to see if Taylor Swift is sitting with tight end Travis Kelce’s mom in a luxury box. I even watched the last quarter of two Boston Celtics matches recently. (I learned long ago that, at least for me, the final quarter of a basketball game is all one needs to watch. There is virtually no lead that cannot be erased during that final quarter.)

The primary reason for this change in my viewing habits admittedly is pure escapism. I can only watch or listen to so much sad and bad news — wars in Ukraine and Gaza, a dysfunctional Congress, a wannabe dictator apparently poised to win the Republican nomination for the presidency despite facing 91 indictments, climate change covering our world with fire and flood. I could go on, but I am only depressing myself. After listening to NPR while walking and reading The New York Times and the Washington Post online, I am ready for a break by evening.

My Beautiful Mystery Companion, never a huge sports fan, has also become enamored of the Chiefs, thanks to the ongoing Kelce-Swift romance. She also remains interested in the Philadelphia Eagles, where older brother Jason Kelce is likely playing his final season as that team’s center. We watched a documentary a few months back called Kelce, that chronicles the 2022 season and culminated in the two brothers facing off in last year’s Super Bowl. (Not literally since both play offense.) It is well worth watching, though it does make one wince at the sheer violence of professional football.

On a recent Sunday morning, I returned from my walk to find the television on, though muted, in the living room. I turned it off, figuring I had neglected to do so the night before. My BMC asked, “Why did you turn the TV off?” I told her, being male and aged, it likely was left on all night thanks to me.

“The Chiefs are about to play in Germany, and I am going to watch it,” she replied while turning the TV back on.

In nearly 16 years together, this was a first: My BMC watching a football game on a Sunday morning! The Chiefs were playing the Dolphins in Frankfurt. With the time difference, game time was 8:30 a.m. And Taylor Swift was not even going to be there! Nevertheless, my BMC watched the entire game, hooting and hollering for her new favorite team. Wonders will never cease.

Since we have neither cable nor a satellite dish, I spring for a bevy of streaming services, with YouTube TV being our primary source for watching sports. Every few months, I have to do a sweep and figure out what I am paying for and not watching. A few weeks ago, I canceled about $60 a month worth of streaming services not being used. It slips up on you, especially since there are roughly a kajillion different services. I am probably paying about as much as I was before cutting the dish subscription eight years ago, but the quality of television programming has dramatically improved, in my view, over the past decade.

I plan to keep YouTube TV until after the Super Bowl, then will take a six-month break from it since it costs more than $75 monthly. Maybe by then, the news will not be quite as oppressive. I am not holding my breath, though. I can always read a book.

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