So over the last few weeks, I’ve begun to do some preliminary testing of my theory. First, I toyed with the idea of not watching any sports for a whole year. But that went by the boards when the Bulls went into the playoffs. (Again, was that just because I grew up watching the Jordan-era Bulls and I’m just addicted to reconnecting with the good feelings and addictive nostalgia?)
Then I crumbled and watched a few innings of the Cubs and I watched the first round of the Blackhawks playoff game. I won’t even get into why I watch the Cubs. It will take far too many words to explain those emotions. And the Blackhawks? Well, let’s just say we don’t have championship teams in Chicago that often, so I guess that’s why I gave in and tuned in like a vicarious championship-starved Cubs fan.
Or did I tune in for some other reason? Was I trying to escape from something by watching the game? Was I trying to avoid a fear or difficult emotion by tuning out on the couch and watching grown men slide back and forth on ice for 60 minutes? I know I didn’t come to any great emotional revelation once the game was over and I had to face reality again. But, I wonder, would my life and emotional health be better off if I just clicked off and faced what it was that I was running from? And would that choice to turn off the TV and not watch sports at all push me further away emotionally and socially from other men in my life?
To Fox’s point of "playing versus watching" sports and mixing in communal activities, I have fought to keep up my regular physical, creative and mental exercise routine that includes a mix of running, weight-lifting, reading, writing, and hanging out with friends and family to just chill via a game of catch or pick-up basketball, etc. But this experiment has added a new dimension to those activities.
For example, it’s been particularly hard when I’m at the gym and all that’s on are ESPN highlights and eight other screens with sports games on. Does that count if I watch those games, I’ve wondered? Is it possible to run with my eyes closed on the treadmill? Not sure. And I don’t think I’m going to try that anytime soon. What I do know, at this point, is that I’m going to try hard to not watch sports just to see where it takes me, and how it truly impacts the male relationships in my life.