Stop the World - I Want to Watch Sports

Is my addiction to televised sports indicative of my fatigue at everything else?

Alon Idan
Alon Idan
Alon Idan
Alon Idan

It seems that I have lost touch with the world: elections, war in Syria, calamity in Brazil, yet I'm still obsessed with referee Menashe Mashiah's error. Of course it wasn't a penalty.

Several channels below, a monster entitled "Master Chef" hauls a rating of 46.6 percent, 52.3 percent at its peak. At the same time, I'm hypnotized by a group of players who hardly manage to drag their legs on the field in Netanya.

The passing years only see deterioration in the disease and its symptoms. The key is the morning, which begins with the same ceremony: What game are they showing on TV tonight? If there's a good game on, I can bear today's Vanity Fair relatively easy. What do I mean by bearing today's Vanity Fair? It means that every time I encounter a hardship - and one always shows up - I face it with an inner dialogue that sounds something like this:

First me: Urgh, I can't deal with this now ...

Second me: Don't fret, there's Real Madrid against Barcelona tonight.

Of course, the opposite also happens: When no good game is on, every small problem takes on the proportions of a calamity.

First me: Urgh, I can't deal with this now ...

Second me: and there's nothing on tonight, either. Life really sucks.

It's rather embarrassing, but it's the truth: The quality of my present life depends on the TV sports listings. As a matter of fact, it's not the quality of my life but rather life itself.

My being springs into life by a double touch on the number five button on the remote. Not due to Channel 55, which has lost the majority of its contents, but simply because it's the "middle channel," the one placed between channel 50 and channel 61 [the sports channels], the spectrum of my life. It's easier to move up and down from there.

I've long since lost my driving power, until I've completely succumbed to my obsession. The surrender is so humiliating that all my quality filters have been jettisoned. Until several years ago, I still managed to apply some criteria as to what I watched, usually based on some form of minimal quality. But now the dam has been destroyed and everything goes: Israeli soccer, English, Spanish, German, Belgium, Dutch soccer, the African Cup of Nations, the Under-21 African Cup of Nations, Israeli basketball, Spanish or Greek basketball, Euroleague, NBA, Tennis, naturally the Football playoffs, Handball all-stars, Snooker on Eurosport and yes - I even watched the World Darts Championship.

Naturally, I've lost my moral right to criticize anyone. Until several years ago I used to tell my partner that I'm embarrassed by the fact she watches reality shows, that she inhales poison to her lungs and mind. I would then explain to her, at length, how the system manipulates her, how her pockets are being emptied, how she's being duped.

Moral high ground

But now? Nothing. Can any person who is seriously into watching a game between Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Be'er Sheva really criticize anyone? Can a person who watches the basketball game between Maccabi Ashdod and Hapoel Jerusalem assume any moral or intellectual superiority? And what about a person who watches - and is really tense about the final outcome - a darts competition between two overweight contestants? Can such a person be taken seriously?

I assume my addiction is due to the circumstances. I can always lay the blame on the number of channels and games, and the technological accessibility and other such rationalizations. But as far as I can remain loyal to some deep inner truth, I believe it's really fatigue: I'm tired. The combination of all the various fronts I have to deal with - family, security situation, people in general - this seemingly mundane combination that most people are familiar with, and deal with, this combination leaves me only two possibilities at the end of the day: fight or surrender.

Fighting means living life like the CEO of an investment company. Those people I read about in the financial newspapers, who can fight on all fronts at once and even win. They rise every morning at five, jog a few kilometers, come home at 6:30 A.M., shower, drink coffee, check their emails, leave for the office, work until 7:00 in the evening, hop over to the gym, come home, examine some stuff from work, see the news for half an hour, review some more stuff from work, get into bed with a book, review some more stuff from work and only then fall asleep.

I'm the living opposite of that CEO. My day goes like this: I get up as late as I possibly can - the mere idea of jogging in the morning insults me; at work, I do only what I must (one must survive, I tell myself every few minutes ); I then go home (going to a gym seems to me like entering a gulag willfully ); I put the kids to sleep (neutralizing possible interferences ) and then take my place on the couch, concentrating on Menashe Mashiah.

Incidentally, I'm fine with all this. I even enjoy my lifestyle. Naturally, there are crises, especially between the 15th and 80th minutes of Israeli soccer games and during NBA games, which actually take place in breaks between commercials. But I'm used to that, as well.

As soon as you're accustomed to the fact that you'll never be the prime minister, or even the CEO of an investment company, everything becomes simpler. By the way, what game are they showing on TV tonight?

Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Ricky Hickman in action during Thursday night’s 77-55 victory over Besiktas of Turkey in the Euroleague, Jan. 31, 2013.Credit: AFP

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