Sunday, September 8, 2013

Can You Go A Season Without Watching Football?

Let’s get right to the chase, the megaton gorilla known as football has begun its actual season (note that football never really ends due to ESPN’s addiction to cover it endlessly)  with both college football last week and the NFL this week kicking off… and frankly I’ve just not gotten around to watching anything about it so far this year. No pre-season games, no draft, no highlights, no opinions, no analysis, the only thing I’ve gotten so far are some scores via the tickers at the bottom of screens and a few walk bys on some TV that happen to have had games on.

As of last week, this has mostly been happening completely on circumstance with an infant learning to crawl around, a new house with plenty projects, plenty going on with the day job and many other sports monopolizing my time, but what if?

The what if being the text I sent to my esteemed GBS cohort who deemed it one of the dumbest texts he’s heard in a while. He’s not alone, I proposed the idea or something similar to many friends and family; they’ve all said it sounds crazy or terrible or some even think I’ll cave because it can’t be done.

But, I’m going for it because I think it’s a worthwhile experiment plus I’m hypothesizing plenty positive outcomes from this. First let me state the rules of what I’m doing. This is NOT a boycott of the game of football or of its fans, I’m not about to be anti-football or become a jerk to those who are watching, I’m simply making no effort to watch the games, highlights or analysis myself. If I happen to be at someone else’s house, or a restaurant with it on, that’s fine, or if I’m watching a highlights show for the purpose of seeing other sports and football is mixed in that’s fine.

But that is also what is going to make this difficult, as Mike pointed out, i'm a big sports fan, this is different than someone who hates football not watching it. This is more like spiting football because I'm tired of the NFL and NCAA in general and all the analysts that cover it, but I still like the game of football which is why we watch the game right?

Most importantly, is that football fans don't take this as an attack on them. If you love football and think I'm dumb for trying this, that's cool, but don't take this as me attacking people who are watching football. I'm not saying watching a lot of football is a terrible thing, everyone has their own hobbies and choices of entertainment, I'm simply saying that I watch a lot of football and I'm wanting to see what happens if I turn that off for a while. 

What I’m doing is simply not, myself, turning on football related content.

The Pros - What am I banking on getting out of this?

A lot more time. Of course I’ve done too much analytical thought on this, and surmise that during the regular season (which is roughly 18 weeks long between NCAA and NFL), general football habits look like this:

total coverage watched
just the games


*because the Wednesday and Friday NCAA games aren’t always watchable/good matchups I gave it an average of 1 hour over the course of the season.

There are 52 weeks in the year, 8,736 hours. 18 weeks of regular season accounts for 540 hours. Add in 4 weeks of NFL playoffs including endless Super Bowl coverage and an endless amount of bowl games and I think we can safely round up to 600 hours of football in a given year. That’s without considering the NFL Draft, off season coverage, pre-season etc. Or, in short, of the time you are alive in a year 14.56% of it is spent watching football.

But wait, that is 14.56% of total time in the year, what about sleep, eating and working? Well if there’s 168 hours in a week and you get 8 hours of sleep (56/wk) and you have a full time job with a 1 hour commute (50/wk) that leaves you with 62 hours of usable time in the week. That means 50% of your usable time in the week is spent watching football, leaving 30 hours divided amongst the rest of the week for eating, bathing, feeding kids, church, blogging, reading, chores, adventuring and heck how about watching sports that are not football?

The obvious things are how much my productivity would be up, this and last weekend I built a table, wired my man-cave for surround sound and video gaming, spent more time with my son, and got a ton of other projects done around the house. Not that I couldn’t do those while also watching football, I just had more time for it.

More sports – So I have 2 weeks of this in the bag and so far instead of College/NFL Gameday shows I’m watching Formula One and the U.S. Open finals/semis. Instead of games I was watching World Cup qualifying matches, American Ninja Warrior, tennis, baseball, UFC, Grand Am at Laguna Seca and more sports I enjoy.

Expanding my sports horizon – 2 years ago I spent a few weeks in New Zealand, and while there I got totally immersed into professional Rugby and Cricket. I’m totally becoming a rugby convert and can’t wait to see it in the Olympics, and in time can’t wait for it to take on in the U.S.A. But to the point, spending less time on football over the next weeks means more time for me to pick up these sports.

Not having to listen to shitty and/or biased football analysis – Lets be honest theres WAY TOO MANY analysts for football, the shows even start with telling you their crew: Terry, Howie, Jimmy, Tony, Chris, Steve, Herman, Jay, Lex and your mom all get time on the shows and all they do is say generic things like “I think these guys will be good” and some other dude counter’s “I don’t think so” and then they argue about it; and we watch it again and again. Most of these guys are former players with charisma, but not many bring actual analysis or have in depth understanding of the nuances of the game to really give you any good info.

No time wasted on anger and hate towards the BCS or NCAA – ok so this one is really helped by the fact that my and Mrs. Wedge’s alma maters both lost in the first week; but since I’m not getting attached to any plucky underdog teams, I’m not going to get pissed when the elitist bowl selection committee refuses to pick them for the faux championship game or that they refuse to bring a proper playoff in.

Less Fantasy Stress – the main Fantasy football league I’m in operates moves on a waiver wire, so its not like I’d gain anything by watching the games live. I’ll see the news, stats and analysis on Yahoo and CBSSports because they are good at their jobs of updating rankings and point projections. Plus the reality of fantasy sports is that you don’t care who wins, just about individual stats; the reason you watch games is to see who wins, those two are really in direct conflict… which means…

No getting stuck watching teams I don’t care about due to Fantasy Football – How many times have you caught yourself watching the crappy Buffalo Bills vs. terrible Jacksonville Jaguars because yoyur fantasy player is in that game? How many hours of your life were wasted away watching a game you really don’t care about?

Don’t have to be subjected to endless commercials – One thing that watching other sports has proven out to me is just how commercial heavy both the NFL and NCAA football are. Not to mention there’s always some sponsor that blows their wad on TV commercials and their spot shows during every break. Based on it showing up in commercial breaks outside of football I’d assume the “Superstitions” beer commercial might be a frontrunner there.

I’m not really missing anything that will haunt me – frankly the game has not evolved in a very long time, fans have. I’m not going to miss any kind of revolution that people talk about for years and years because football players, and more importantly coaches, don’t have the balls for it. Let me know when a team quits punting, or goes wildcat full time and I’ll watch. Mike surmises that the Saints could win the Superbowl and I could miss every game, but couldn’t I sum up every game of the Saints by now, defense sucks and misses a million tackles but Brees throws for 5 touchdowns to outscore the other team using our 13 running back system.

You know how it went today, Mrs. Wedge actually turned on the Saints game, I walked up later in the day and we had the following conversation:

Me: "Did the Saints win?"
Mrs. Wedge: "yep"

That's it, no up and down emotions or anger at refs, coaches and players, I know the result, I'm happy for them, but had they lost I still didn't invest the time for it to hurt.

No anger with the current state of football – If I’m not devoting time on football then I won’t be reminded of how much I hate the league, announcers and analysts indifference to injuries and concussions. The NCAA terrible stance on amateurism and the beyond awfully terrible bowl system...

I never have to have a worry about “watching too much football” – Mike and I were once in a band together, and at the time he wrote a song called “I love you but the game is on.” Which while hilarious, is a real situation for many folks, and one I’ve skirted more than a few times with Mrs. Wedge; that will be no more. No other sport gets the oversaturation that football gets so its highly unlikely I’ll watch too much of any other sport to cross into that territory.

And the most important Pro of any….

Because I won’t be seeking out any kind of coverage basically means I have no reason to watch ESPN outside of the literal live coverage of other sports, because as Deadspin pointed out through great research, ESPN only really covers football all day.

Why is that good? It means I will never accidentally stumble on ESPN programming, ever, which means:

No Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith, no Tim Tebow or Johnny Manziel, I believe that alone settles this, game, set, match. 

I'll be checking in periodically to update on how this experiment is going, and if I relapse...


Mike said...

OK, maybe I'll do a separate post later, but for now, the points you make and all the numbers/stats don't really account for a few things:

1. You don't HAVE to watch all of that football. I never have. On Saturday nights, I might be playing with my band, podcasting, watching SNL, or watching a movie with my family. Some other dude is watching San Diego State against BYU. The games are options, not requirements. Just watch the Saints, maybe? (I mean, if you wanted to. Of course, I also agree with your choice to not watch any of it because/if you just don't want to.)

2. It's a hobby. Everyone (hopefully) has hobbies. Again, if I play music with a band, go fishing/golfing on Sunday, run a haunted attraction that I spend all fall preparing for, or grow vegetables and rent space at farmers markets... these are all hobbies.

3. Multi-task! I do more sports "listening" than watching. I write, read, research, prepare for work/blogs/etc, and do actual work while listening to and sometimes watching sports. You can do any household chores, inside or outside, and still keep up. If you wanted to.

4. But yes, the main point that you make is valid. Be able to do other stuff. I wasn't even working last year and I still had to miss a couple of Saints games. It just happens, and you have to let it happen. I totally agree with just living life and not letting sports take over. But I guess I'm different about that part, as proven by the fact that ESPN does have a need for 14 channels or whatever.

Mike said...

Oh, and I'd love to have a thing that mutes my radio or TV every time someone says "Manziel." I can't wait to see LSU destroy him.

Mike said...

And finally, I also know when to give up! I will not spend more than a few minutes (if that) on watching the Cubs this year. Haven't watched a full inning since July.

Allen Wedge said...

You're right on with your points. I was mostly trying to generalize on time, because I think you and I both generally agree we're not the normal average American football watcher. I probably in the last few years watched more than most, and I'd put you as watching much less than the average. Even I don't think I'm up to par on some fans of the game, think of normal college fans and how much they watch because every game "has an effect on their team." But I DO think the hours average out because of HOW much ESPN other folks generally watch every night, which as Deadspin has scientifically proven is a football overkill network.

As far as the moderation and multitasking, I should have clarified on those, I definitely am not dismissing either of those. The point is what if I had a different sport or entertainment on while multitasking?

This is not "I think football sucks and its ruining lives" because I don't think that, this is more experimenting with spite. I'm generally annoyed with the NCAA and NFL and overexposure/coverage of it so lets go draconian and get rid of all of it; its definitely an overreaction type of decision but that's the point.

Kelly also pointed out she doesn't think I can do it, which is totally a possibility, like you said, if the Saints are undefeated by week 7 this is going to get VERY hard.

Anonymous said...

Love this idea.
I'm getting the idea you giving up football would be akin to 'Geek or me giving up racing, or at least the big name series (except that falls down because racing news isn't *everywhere* even on sports channels).

Good luck!

I'm considering unfollowing a whole lot of IndyCar/ALMS people each winter because of the sheer wall of NFL stuff nearly every evening.

I didn't know you were getting into rugby. After casually following the Six Nations and the (union) World Cup for years I'm trying to understand it a little better.
The autumn internationals are coming up. USA plays Russia at the home of the Saracens team. Several other good games in there. No idea what games are on UK TV (I'd guess the ones quoting a start time) let alone US TV.

Allen Wedge said...

yeah its hard to watch rugby here, only 1 channel shows it and its hardly ever live except 7s and only whelive for the US leg in Vegas. I think they're trying to get people into it going up to the Olympics.

Basicly we've never had a reason to be good but we just had our first domino fall in that an American Football player, Carlin Isles, decided to switch to rugby, the results are exactly as expected, hes super fast but nimble like american receivers, if he can be good enough by Olympics (he just saw the sport for first time a few years ago) it may help wake the USA as a sleeping giant for rugby.

Pat W said...

USA are already at a reasonable level in the World Cup, some good performances in the last couple of tournaments. There is definitely potential in the full game as well as 7s.