Monday, June 19, 2006

"Weekends, I should point out, are totally different..."

To gain some insight into the mind of a true sports fanatic. I've sought the input of the afore-mentioned sports-fan friend to see how he does it.

WH - Dude, I'm coming to you because you watch an inordinate (or is it ordinate? I don't even know...) amount of sports and you keep up with everything. Frankly, I find it both ridiculous and fascinating. Can you describe your daily routine for me? I want it all - online time spent - sites visited, newspapers, number of episodes of Sportscenter - the works.
First of all, inordinate. At least among the relatively normal people that I know, I watch more sports than anyone else, maybe than the rest of them combined. As for the daily routine, I guess it's basically as follows: wake up, check on the fantasy teams, then watch Sportscenter rerun while reading the paper, eating breakfast, etc. So that's about an hour. There's not really any sports on for the rest of the morning (World Cup and Tour de France times excepted - those are special events), so that's a sports-free zone. Most early afternoons don't have much going on either, except for the occasional weekday baseball game (on ESPN, or a Cubs game on WGN). If those are on, I'll tend to move myself in front of the TV and do work or read while watching the game. Doesn't matter who's playing. Late afternoon is Pardon the Interruption on ESPN at 5:30 - that's a daily routine. Then dinner, and then the baseball game in the evening, either going to the park (season tickets are a joy) or watching on TV. If the Sox aren't on, then I'll watch whatever other game is on. That's the weekdays, basically. Probably on average about four to five hours of sports on TV for a weekday, counting Sportscenters, Baseball Tonights, and actual games. Because I work at the computer, online time is pretty high - I'm constantly checking my fantasy team and I read everything that's free about baseball on (stupid "insider" articles), and other Boston sports news, and whatever else catches my eye.

Weekends, I should point out, are totally different - then it's basically sports all day. Whenever the Sox are on, obviously, but also day games of baseball, and Lord knows during football season, I cancel all my Sunday plans. I realize I've focused on baseball season, because that's what we're in, but of course during the offseason I'm watching basically every Celtics game, and the occasional Bruins game, and pretty much any other pro basketball game that's televised, if the C's aren't playing at the same time.

As for print media, I read the sports sections of the Globe and the Times (what little there is in the Times), and Sports Illustrated every week. Not too much there - when you watch Sportscenter every day and read the stuff online, there isn't too much other than local articles on the Sox or Yankees and the columnists that's worth much in the papers. SI is just for fun. So I think that's the basic outline of the sports in my life. Lots of TV, a considerable amount on the internet, and some print. Every Sox game, every Celtics game, every Patriots game, every other nationally televised baseball, football, or basketball game, and highlights of everything. It sounds like a lot when I put it this way, but my wife would tell you that it's actually much worse.
WH- As you know, you've roped me into your sick little world of fantasy leagues. This was after years of listening to you talk about how they have improved your enjoyment of the game. I liked this idea - but find that I've had a much greater response to the theory of fantasy leagues than the practice of them. How have they worked for you and what have they added to your quality of sports-fan-dom?
Fantasy leagues are basically a way for me to demonstrate that I could be a general manager of a professional sports team. I don't know whether they've added to my quality of sports-fan-dom. The biggest knock against fantasy sports by its opponents is that people stop rooting for teams or for good games, they only care about their one guy on whatever team, and everything else is irrelevant. I totally understand that danger - I'll admit to watching games that I have little interest in (and that aren't even good games) because I've got one of the starting pitchers, or one of the hitters. Or even a reliever, for God's sake. But that particular danger is more acute, I think, for people who are not already enormous sports fans. Which is to say, I was already watching every game and reading all the stats before I started doing fantasy leagues. But doing fantasy sports does make me more aware of really every single player out there - if you're good at them, you find yourself constantly on the lookout for the next great player, or for the overlooked guy, or whatever. It means that my knowledge of the statistics and abilities of marginal players has vastly improved. For whatever that's worth.
WH - Can fantasy leagues work for the casual sports fan, or do they require a degree of obsessiveness that a casual fan just can't provide?
Hard to say. I think that they can work - if you're the right type of person. That said, you're probably not going to beat someone who's really obsessed - I mean, there are people in fantasy leagues who are picking up and dropping players during games that they're watching because they think they've found something great. I'm not even doing that, for the most part. So a casual fan would just be a step or two behind, because he wouldn't be on top of the latest injuries, breakouts, etc. The plain fact is, most casual fans aren't going to care enough to want to play. You really have to be obsessed to join one in the first place - and you have to have that drive I was talking about to prove that you can be the general manager of a team. That's really what it's all about for me - it's a way of living out a dream job.
WH - If I were to spend a limited amount of time following sports news per day - say 20 minutes - how would you recommend I do it? TV? Internet? Newspaper?
First of all, your limited time is too limited - I'm going to expand it to 30 minutes. So you've lost your ten minutes of self-doubt every day. Boo hoo. Now - here's the simplest way to get the most sports news in half an hour: watch ESPNews, not late in the afternoon, but late at night or early in the morning. You get all the day's sports highlights in half an hour, plus the scroll at the bottom of the screen with breaking news, stats, etc. It's by far the best way to get it all in.
WH - You are one of the most skeptical people of new technology of anyone I know - so I suppose this question will probably answer you read any sports blogs? Deadspin seems pretty good, but I don't really know the landscape that well. What say you? Speaking of sports blogs, have you seen any of the NYTimes coverage of the World Cup? I personally think they've gone blog-crazy and are spreading themselves too thin. Discuss.
Sorry, the question answers itself. Apologies to anyone who's going to read this and be offended, including your girlfriend, but I just don't understand the whole blog thing. I won't say any more than that, because we both know I'd just get my ass in trouble.
Editor's Note: When I spoke with this friend again later this same day by phone, he revealed that while this was indeed "a lot of sports," he felt that he "could be doing more." Couldn't we all?


Blogger design*sponge said...

if said sports fanatic is responsible for WH watching more sports than he already does now, said sports fanatic will be TOAST.

aforementioned blogging girlfriend

9:02 AM

Blogger Chris said...

I forbid you to continue participating in fantasy baseball. You don't want to turn out like this. (The boyfriend in question is Franklin Foer, I believe. You don't want to be a successful political journalist, do you?)

7:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't you threaten me, miss aforementioned blogging girlfried. i warped WH's mind long before you entered the picture, and i have no plans to stop now.

said sports fanatic

12:50 PM


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