What Are You Watching?

While we’re waiting for a vaccine and to see if some professional sports will start, or others will continue, what are you watching?

We’ve gone into unknown territory when it comes to a lack of professional sports on TV. On of the great trivia questions I was asked during the “Stump Sam” days was, ‘What are the two days there are no professional sports played during the calendar year? I got the answer, only because it’s a trick question: ‘The day before and the day after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game” is the answer. Those were the only days of the year no sports were scheduled. Sports are scheduled, and shown on television on all holidays, overlapping one another and fighting for viewers.

If you only count the NFL, MLB, the NBA and the NHL, 1918 was the last year we went this long without any of those sports being played. The NFL and NBA hadn’t formed yet and there were 101 days between the end of the World Series in September that year and the start of the NHL season in December. We blew past that number two weeks ago.

If the schedule goes as planned, it’ll be 134 days between the last NBA and NHL games played in 2020 on March 11th and the start of the MLB season on July 23rd.

Obviously we’ve been many nights without sports to watch. But we’re all still watching something. Viewership numbers are up across the board in every category.

But no sports.

Sports on television is the ultimate reality show. There’s competition, drama, personalities and the outcome is unknown. How many times have you heard somebody say, “Well, I’ve been around a long time, and I’ve never seen that before!”

With some down time, I’ve been scanning through the channels to see if there’s anything interesting.

It’s hard to watch any news. Nationally it’s all about which side of the political spectrum you’re on, coverage of protests and counter-protests. Locally, they’re still trying to tell us how important the same weather is six different ways every hour. We already know it’s going to rain around five o’clock for the next three months. We live here.

Looking at the sports channels, I saw two guys fake arguing about something. I watched for a minute to see how good of an actor either was. Then I realized they really didn’t know what they were talking about at all, weren’t very good actors either and moved on. That format repeated itself a few times on other networks, which only made me laugh harder.

There were some radio shows being shown live. Opinionated, minutiae mongering, and making up lists just to have lists, none of it was very compelling television. There’s a reason they’re on radio.

I’m really not interested in years-old games, no matter how “classic” they are purported to be. I did stop and watch part of the 1971 MLB All-Star Game only because it had more than 25 future Hall of Famers on both rosters, possibly the greatest collection of baseball talent on one field in history.

No matter how “live” it is, I’m sorry, I’m not watching corn hole. Even if it’s the championship game.

My choices this week were all over the place. Who knew there was Spanish League Basketball broadcast live here in the US? I know it’s on but I’m not getting up at five o’clock to watch Korean League Baseball. Old college football, baseball and basketball games keep me for about 30 seconds just to see some current pro superstar back in their college days. I’ve watched some European Soccer and I have been impressed with the sound engineers ability to make the matches sound like they have fans in the stands. I’ll watch some of the top teams compete but Brighton Hove Albion vs. Watford isn’t keeping me for long.

There are a lot of fishing shows on now. I like to fish so I’ll stop to see what they’re catching, but knowing a lot about television production, I see that the show really belongs to the editor in post-production. Three long days of fishing can make a pretty compelling 30-minute television show.

I don’t hunt but the shows now on make it pretty exciting. A lot of my friends hunt and away from the hours and hours of sheer boredom for the possibility of 20-seconds of excitement, most of their stories are about just-misses or the evening activities that involve beer and brown liquor. They don’t show any of that on TV.

Looking for something live, I came across some thoroughbred racing. I like racing and watched that for a while. In person the time between races gives you some time to study and get to the window. On television the interval is terminal. And I came across something I’d never seen before on that network. It resembled barrel racing except with four horses, a wagon, a “driver” and two other people on the wagon. Clearly highly skilled competitors and highly trained horses. But not for me.

“Live” I suppose, is a relative term. There were two guys playing a video game being televised “live.” Really?

And I found some live tennis. It looked like a weekday match in somebody’s backyard. It was an exhibition for charity and I did recognize some of the names but none were Federer (I know he’s rehabbing his knee) nor Nadal nor Djokovic. I appreciated the effort but after a few minutes I had the remote going again.

As I was scanning the other night I did catch the second half of “DodgeBall.” It seemed kind of sports-y and it certainly lightened the mood. We occasionally re-watch some movies at my house. You do catch some things you didn’t see the first time, especially if the plot is based on dialogue.

I’m trying to justify “The Big Lebowski” as a sports movie because it’s based around the bowling. But that would be disingenuous. Anytime it’s on, the next two hours of my life are spoken for. I don’t have any control over that. And any guy who doesn’t stop what they’re doing and watch “Caddyshack” when it crosses their scan hasn’t figure out how life works yet.

Keep scanning. Have some time available though. You never know what might catch your eye. Unless you come across “Caddyshack II.” Then get up off the couch and go do something.