Saturday, February 5, 2011

Is it Live or is it Memorex?

photo by shaymus22via PhotoRee

I watch a lot of football. A lot. Mostly English Premier League, a smattering of La Liga, the occasional German game, even an Italian game or two. Also the U.S. Men's National Team. And the English Team, too, if their game is televised here. And Champions League. Sometimes Europa League. Plus the Cups, FA and League. 

As I said, I watch a lot of football.

But how am I able to do this, and still lead a normal life (I know -- hold the jokes on the "normal life" part; qualify it, and read "lead a relatively normal life")? Let me explain through an analogy.

In what feels like a former life, I used to surf. Not well, and not a ton, but I was known to get the board shorts wet every now and then.  But to live the life of a surfer in South Florida isn't easy. It's not like California or Hawaii, where the swells arrive at regularly appointed intervals and all you have to do is show up. No, to be a surfer in South Florida is to find yourself dependent upon weather systems and wind-blown waves, and to deal with lots of chop. No neatly manicured regular sets to dive into here. So, basically, you're always looking with one eye to the weather, waiting for just the right conditions to pop up, which they do -- not regularly, but just enough to keep you interested. And when they do pop up, you've got to drop everything else that is going on with your life -- work, family, friends -- and hit the beach. Basically, you've got to be a surf bum, or someone with an extremely flexible work schedule. But it's very hard to be a serious surfer in South Florida and hold down any kind of a regular job.

Being a soccer addict in the US holds very similar issues:
 lots of action during the weekday (2:30 or 3:00pm East Coast kickoffs during the work week are particularly brutal), and hour upon hour away from family on weekends watching footie. The early kickoff here (7:30am EST) doesn't tend to be a problem -- everyone else is just getting up, house still quiet, cup of coffee brewing away -- but the 10:00am and 12:30pm kickoffs tend to be a bit more problematic. Unless you put off family obligations it's pretty hard to sit by the television (at home or in the pub) whiling the weekend day away watching games.....

So how to solve this particularly vexing issue....? Fortunately, there's a solution: the DVR (Digital Video Recorder).   The DVR allows you to tape all the action and watch it when it's convenient for you. This time-shifting miracle of technology often allows me to have my cake and eat it too -- hold down a regular job, raise a family, and even do a chore or two around the house (okay, confession time: I don't really do many chores).  But I often wonder, am I having the same experience as when I watch the games live...?

I try to stay away from knowing the score. In fact, I'm paranoid about not finding out the result of a game before I'm able to watch it. I stay away from the internet, and Twitter. Especially Twitter. 

My close friends know not to email or call me about a game without first inquiring as to whether or not I've actually seen it yet. I've learned through hard experience that this system is not always perfect, but it's manageable. Epsecially in the US, where football is increasingly popular, but not on the tip of everyone's tongue.

But especially for the weekday games, if I put my nose to the grindstone and work away, avoid the internet (except work emails) like the plague, I can often make it home for the day without knowing the outcome of that afternoon's game. And then home is like a sanctuary, trusty Blackberry put aside until I can sit down in peace (a relative term with children) to watch the day's action.

But still, the question nags: is it the same?  I try to make it as similar as possible.  I could fast forward through the action, but I generally don't. Epsecially United games, I don't. I actually have a major superstition that if I'm watching a United game on tape delay, and I'm tempted to fast forward, that I'll somehow affect the outcome. I know this isn't rational, but I never said it was. That's why it's called a superstition.

I always enjoy the game as if it's live -- except for pausing it to say goodnight to a child, or get a beer from the fridge -- because the event is there, hanging patiently in suspended animation, until my return to hit play from wherever I've paused it. In a way, though, it's a much more solitary experience. No one to share the joy with -- my son is the sole exception -- no one to tweet with, no one to share a pint with.

But at least I get to see a game I might not otherwise. And enjoy it, as if it were live. So again I ask you: am I altering the experience, or am I just saving it until it can fit my lifestyle?  Am I profoundly changing my football watching experience, or am I just making it more convenient to fit into my crowded lifestyle?  Let me know your thoughts; I look forward to hearing them.

And there's an easy way to tell if I'm watching: if I'm watching, I'm tweeting (@farlieonfootie). If I'm silent on Twitter, it's because I'm doing something else -- work, family, friends involved -- and the game I love is sitting there, hanging out, patient with me like a true friend, waiting in electronic form for just right time.

This is farlieonfootie for February 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment