“Hi, my name is Bill and I’m a sports-aholic.”
I don’t know if there actually is a 12-step program for obsessive sports fans, but if so, I should probably attend the meetings. Recently I tried to figure out how many thousands of hours I have spent during the past six decades following sports. This includes the time I’ve spent glued to the progress of a ballgame, either in person or via TV, radio, or Internet; or the hand signals of a co-worker during an important business meeting, as he checks the progress of an afternoon ballgame on his smart phone. (It’s a simple code. For example, the following sequence — 3 fingers, 1 finger, thumbs up, 5 fingers — means the Red Sox are winning 3-to-1 in the 5th inning. Or this painful sequence — 5 fingers, fist, thumbs down, 1 finger — means a rookie pitcher called up from Pawtucket for an emergency start got shelled in the first inning.)
Also, I have to add in the hours I’ve spent watching or listening to pre-game shows, highlight shows, coaches shows, halftime shows, game wrap-up shows, call-in shows, and looking-ahead-to-the-next-opponent shows. Plus, the time I’ve spent reading sports books, sports magazines, the sports section of the newspaper, and sports websites. I suppose I also should add in the amount of time I’ve spent drifting off to sleep at night while envisioning myself striking out the Yankees’ cleanup hitter with the bases loaded and two outs in the 9th inning using, of course, my wicked overhand curve ball. I’m embarrassed to say this particular dream did not cease when I graduated from Little League.
Since I’ve been alive for well over 500,000 hours at this point in my life, I figure the answer must be at least 200,000 hours. And that number would’ve been higher if various major league sports hadn’t gone on strike a few times, if my home hadn’t been hit by a handful of power outages over the years, and if I thought hockey was a real sport.
Recently, I finally acknowledged that I have serious problem. The Red Sox currently are battling it out with the Yankees for first place, and I’ve been staying up way too late at night to catch the end of the games, which results in concentrating way too little at work the next day.
Back in 2004, I remember fretting and squirming and agonizing over every pitch. At one point I prayed, “Dear Lord, just let them win the World Series one time. That’s all I ask. After that, I’ll be content and never get obsessed about sports again, and no matter what the Red Sox do in the future, I’ll watch the games with detached bemusement and serenity. Amen.”
Well, as you may remember, my prayer was answered that year, as the Sox finally broke the “Curse of the Bambino” and won it all. And they won the Series two other times since then! So, what do I find myself doing this year? Fretting and squirming and agonizing over every pitch.
Another thing to consider: I don’t even gamble on sports (which puts me, from what I can gather, in a distinct minority). So, it’s not like I have a financial stake in the outcome of any game. I have NO stake in any of the games. And yet I intently follow the most meaningless athletic contests as if my life depends on it. Surely a 12-step program is in order.
As I said earlier, I’m not aware of any Sports-aholic Anonymous meetings in this area. But if they exist, I should attend. That is, of course, as long as I can get home in time for the first pitch.