December 15, 2009

John Swansburg: Why I Stopped Being a Sports Fan: "Several months ago, I gave up sports," Slate culture editor John Swansburg wrote Monday. "The games are relentless, the experience of them too often ephemeral. ... What's the point of devoting all of my free time to something so fleeting?"

posted by rcade to general at 11:59 AM - 15 comments

Thanks for the link - I enjoyed (and saw too much of myself) in that. I spent so many years of my youth (pre-internet, pre-cable TV in the UK) scrabbling for every bit of live sport I could lay my eyes on that I'm just as bad (as Swansburg) at discriminating now what's worth looking at and what isn't. It's part of the reason I love SportsFilter as a source of information and insight delivering me interesting sports journalism that I could never find on my own. Not without going mad anyway.

He's a fool to himself though if he thinks he's having anything other than a break (which he admits towards the end of the article is possibly the case). If sport's in his blood, he'll be back for a fix before too long.

posted by JJ at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2009

Great find rcade. I enjoyed reading the piece by Swansburg.

If sport's in his blood, he'll be back for a fix before too long.

Throughout Swansburg's column, I was thinking the same thing. Either you love sports or you don't and I just don't see how anyone could just quit watching sports altogether if they've been watching it all their lives.

posted by BornIcon at 12:27 PM on December 15, 2009

This has the same stink of

"I used to watch TV all the time, but ever since I got rid of the set from my house, I've been living a much better life than all of you monkeys."

posted by grum@work at 12:49 PM on December 15, 2009

Monkeys don't know how to use a remote. So I fail to see your point.

posted by yerfatma at 01:05 PM on December 15, 2009

You think, grum? I was expecting it to be that way (or more like the "I've learned to speak Tagalog fluently, volunteer 40 hours a month, and finally finished Ulysses in the three months since I embraced being single! And I've never been happier!!!" articles that spring up from time-to-time) but I didn't see this one that way.

It actually kind of sounds like how I felt after the 2004 U.S. Election: oversaturated and burnt out, except my candidate lost.

posted by Ufez Jones at 01:08 PM on December 15, 2009

I don't think this guy will last long without sports. It's only been a few months, and he still talks about them like an addict. Unless he keeps going to meetings and finds a good sponsor, he'll be back scoring late-night women's college soccer and west coast college basketball and hating himself the next morning.

I think sometimes about dropping particular sports -- especially football because of the physical toll on the players. With just Major League Baseball and the Premiership, I could fill the entire year.

posted by rcade at 01:47 PM on December 15, 2009

He needs a new caddy possibly.

Sorry - wrong thread.

posted by JJ at 01:56 PM on December 15, 2009

JJ, actually he just needs a better monkey

posted by dviking at 04:34 PM on December 15, 2009

A better monkey and a clue...

I understand how it can take over too much of your life if you allow it, but I have had the pleasure of enjoying championships by my favorite teams in each sport. The euphoria was great...

I have also tasted the bitterness of defeat... more so lately than anything that resembles championships. The good news is that you don't have to over-indulge (wasn't he on two fantasy leagues?). You just need moderation.

Since my teams have won it all in the past, I can't be greedy and turn on them when they loose. But, there are plenty of teams I still like and pull for when watching football or basketball.

The only problem I see is that the zebra's determine too often the outcomes of the games. They can have a defensive back tackled or thrown to the ground by his jersey and not call holding, while the other team's receivers gets bumped barely and flags fly from everywhere.

The ref from the NBA said it and I do believe it, refs do not like certain players. I can tell by watching...

posted by Mickster at 04:49 PM on December 15, 2009

Monkeys don't know how to use a remote. So I fail to see your point.

Mojo did!

posted by grum@work at 08:15 PM on December 15, 2009

Pray tell, Mr Swansburg, what worthwhile pursuits are you engaging in now you have all this free time? Helping the homeless perhaps?

Oh, writing asinine articles... Fair enough.

posted by Drood at 12:19 AM on December 16, 2009

Sport is about the only thing that makes me feel real after experiencing all the shit going on in the world.

posted by owlhouse at 02:59 AM on December 16, 2009

Although he's a wuss for ditching his competitive fantasy teams mid-stream, I think Swansburg is onto something. Personally, I get pissed when I DVR a Pacers game (due to work) and then accidentally hear that they got blown out despite my considerable efforts to remain ignorant. So I'm supposed to come home and sit though a shit effort that I already know the outcome of for three hours just to keep up with the team and still call myself a fan? I skip those games anymore and read the game story and the box score and call it quits. Too many productive things I could be doing. Yeah, I feel robbed somewhat, but part of me is glad that I didn't have to waste three hours of my life when I could have read a book or exercised or something.

On the other hand, it would be next to impossible to cease watching Colts games right now (I would watch DVR'ed Colts losses but there haven't been any), or the Olympics for that matter. I'm stoked for Vancouver. It's gonna be some awesome television. A great way to unwind and forget about reality for a while. I think owlhouse nailed it.

posted by apthomason at 04:05 AM on December 16, 2009

And after watching a 4 hour game where the Red Sox give it away at the end sometimes makes me question the time spent. Still, I find the rewards worth it.

I can understand making a decision to cut back on time invested in watching sports. When I was in high school I followed baseball, football, basketball, tennis, etc. religiously. Now baseball is really the only sport I follow without fail.

But I'm not kidding myself that I'm now somehow spending my time with more worthwhile pursuits, and it's the ending line (I went and read a book) that, to me, reeks of what grum@work was referring too. The author complains that the high percentage of games he's watched have been unmemorable. I can say the same thing about the books I've read.

posted by justgary at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2009

What's the point of devoting all of my free time to something so fleeting?

Likewise, sex. "Slate full of contrarian wankers" is "dog bites man".

[Though, for what it's worth, I haven't missed JockCenter and even the Premier League since giving up cable in the summer, though I doubt that will last when the World Cup rolls around.]

posted by etagloh at 10:34 PM on December 16, 2009

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