I hate televised sport. I really, really hate televised sport. I never used to. In my BC (before Children) days I remember getting a big glass of Coke and a tube of the Original Pringles and parking off to watch a game. I also spent many an afternoon/evening at our local pub drinking shots and shouting at boys chasing balls. I am as much a good South African as the next girl, and will willingly watch our national team battle it out on a rugby field, cricket pitch, soccer field… BUT there is a peculiar thing about televised sport that does something to my husband that simply slays me.
He becomes obsessed. It is all consuming. It is life threatening. And I fear, he is not the only one with OTSD.*
You see, long ago, again BC, I used to watch a local soapie fairly religiously. It was called 7de Laan. It’s characters were typecast. There was no incest, very little kissing, almost no infidelity. The biggest dramas were when the deli forgot a cheese order, or the coffee shop needed a make-over and the locals needed to enter a talent show as a fund raiser to pay for said makeover. It was brainless, harmless, almost-a-high-school-play distraction, for twenty seven minutes every weekday. There were several characters who were spoken of but never seen, probably to add a little mystery: Mr Notnagel, Moekie and Evelina, to mention the recurring ones. There is one antagonist, usually Gita McGregor. The biggest problem with the show was that it was slap bang in the middle of crazy hour with kids. Supper being served, husband returning from work, etc etc.
So I gave it up.
Sport is a different breed of problem though. Firstly, it’s mostly over weekends. Secondly, the short games (rugby, football, oh and international golf,) all happen at night. Or worse, they start at five pm. Thirdly, and apparently most importantly, ‘it’s LIVE.’ So they can't miss a damn second of it.
When my husband was still just my boyfriend I remember going to a family weekend away and being told that he was being rude – spending all weekend on the couch with the remote in his hand, channel hopping between tennis, cricket and Animal Planet. Later on, that same family has opted to spend weekends alongside my hubby sharing remotes equally. As it so often goes.
I also remember the initial obligation my parents felt because they have no television at their weekend home, since the place is robbed only less frequently than it is visited. A television, especially one that would need to be connected to satellite, would be a total waste, but they worried that hubby would be bored and not want to visit them unless they made sure he could watch his sport. They only succumbed to the pressure when they actually moved to said house and needed a tv for themselves.
I understand, like I said, the need to support your own team – national, provincial, local hero, or whatever. I understand a vague interest in the log, the general performance of other teams and the overall standings in games where rank is important. I even understand that sport is entertaining and far more positive an outlet than soap operas, violent movies, porn or the news. And yes, if I were to choose one vice for hubby to have, OTSD is certainly near the top of my list. It would fall below obsessive tidiness and fidgeting hands with a compulsion to massage shoulders or feet.
But when our satellite television service provider intentionally places Desperate Housewives and the rugby chat show discussing Saturday's game at length, in the same time slot on two separate channels, are they trying to cause domestic un-bliss?? And when the highlights for important games are all scheduled for a Saturday morning or Sunday during church time, its hard not to assume that all the programmers have been embittered by ruthless divorces and want to punish all those who are still married.
It’s already difficult to allow a man two hours of sport during bath/supper/bed time for kids. As important as it may seem, in this day and age of “pause” and “record” in real life TV, it seems unnecessary. It’s also difficult to understand why the seventy-fifth ball on the third day of a five day test between Uzbekistan and New Guinea is even vaguely important in my life, but I really must draw the line at the fact that we are told, and please God don’t let me be the only wife who ever hears these words: “I must watch it now because it’s live.”
Apparently PVR is good enough to record all other shows, but not the ones that are ‘live’ all weekend. Apparently it doesn’t matter that I need to see on Facebook that April chose Jackson because I haven’t had a chance to catch up on Grey’s Anatomy yet, but reading about Kenya beating Ethiopia in the local soccer derby in the Sunday paper is not enough. No. We need to watch it for all ninety minutes. To see the one limp little goal that was the nail in Ethiopia’s footy coffin. Well, at least for this weekend. And thank goodness my hubby has passed the option of watching every minute of every grand prix or crazy cycle tour!
I suppose if I were more sporty I might get it. Or perhaps if I were a little more competitive. But I'm really not. Although I am completely patriotic when it comes to my national teams, it is enough to watch the highlights or simply read it in the news. At least, it is for now while the status quo involves crazy hour – every night without fail, regardless of who’s playing who – and I am on call for the kids.
But don’t get me started on the highlights. Why, oh why, do the highlights need to be available twenty-four/seven? How many times do I need to see Australia whipping our Proteas, or the Sharks scoring a try that was a try that was a try but didn’t count as a try because it was (incorrectly) disallowed? There should be a limit to how many times you can watch those things, and certainly a ‘spousal control’ option, so that a wife can lock the channel when she feels the privilege of the remote has been abused.
The worst has probably got to be golf. Not only is it quite a boring sport to watch, play by play, but it is also mostly ‘live’ late at night. Well, at least on this side of the globe, that is. Amazingly, my hubby, who doesn’t manage to stay up past nine pm most nights, can watch golf until two, three am. I’d like to know what Charl Schwarzel has that I don’t?
And then the final indignity. Love, did you remember the passports we need to board the plane tomorrow morning? Dammit! Happy anniversary sweetheart! Dammit. Did you remember parent’s evening this week, it’s been on the calendar all term? Dammit. But ask him about that seventy fifth ball on the third day between Uzbekistan and New Guinea? The shot he hit off the seventh tee on the Sun City golf course in 2008? The score between South Africa and Australia in the cricket match during the world cup of 1996?
These things, he remembers!
I could wax lyrical about the unintentional message this all sends, the fact that we (spouses, kids…) are less important than some balls; the fact that people within the home are neglected in favour of heroes these husbands will probably never meet. I could go on and on about the choices men make to place their needs over the needs of the family and the subliminal message it sends to kids when their father tells them to be quiet so that they can watch some man on the other side of the world kick a ball or strike it with a club.
Instead, I will say only this: There’s nothing more LIVE than this life. Right here. Right now. And this life has no pause, record or play button. No highlights package to watch and re-watch. No re-runs. It’s just here and now and right before your eyes. Be a dear and don’t tell lifenot to block the view of the telly?
*OTSD is not a real thing. I made it up. But it should be a real thing.