LIVING IN THE MOMENT
My cell phone rang. I could see from the caller ID that it
was my 27 year old son.
"I'VE GOT THE WARRIORS GAME ON TAPE!" I screamed
into the phone before he could say anything. "DON'T TELL ME WHO
"First of all," he replied in a soothing tone,
"you need to relax. Secondly, no one in the 21st century says they
have the game on tape. It's on a DVR. You're dating yourself."
"Whatever. Just because we don't have 8-track or Beta
tapes anymore doesn't mean we have to lose the lingo. It's got to be on
Somehow, I could see him shaking his head sadly, even though
he was on the phone. "It's called the digital world. You'll
understand it in your next life."
I may not understand how it works or what to call it, but I
like it. I watch my fair share of sporting events, and seldom do I watch
anything live anymore.
I can even remember when I hit the proverbial wall. I'm
guessing it was about 10 years ago, maybe more, while watching a 49er game
on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. One of the teams scored, and the network
cut to a 3 or 4 minute commercial break, which was routine.
Then there was the ensuing kickoff, which was deep in the end
zone with no return. Yep, back to a 3 or 4 minute commercial break.
"YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" I remember screaming at the television.
Now it's the norm, and I seldom put up with it. Same with the
Warriors, where the last two minutes of a game, with all the strategic
timeouts, can take 20 minutes. Even the Giants and A's, with their
interminable late inning pitching changes (and accompanying commercials),
are becoming difficult to watch live on television.
There are few things in life as satisfying as fast forwarding
through endless commercials. I can watch a 3 ½ hour football game in 1 ½
hours, a 2 ½ hour basketball game in one hour. There are studies done as
to how much time is wasted sitting in traffic. Someone should do a study
on how much time is wasted watching commercials.
Fortunately for businesses, most people are not like me and
still prefer to watch events live, whether it's sports or the Academy
Awards, so advertisers remain safe in their investments. My guess is that
the reason there remains so many live viewers is because they can't handle
the stress of someone blowing the outcome for them.
I once spent an entire afternoon begging every person I ran
across not to tell me who was winning the Big Game between Cal and
Stanford. At around 6:00, right before I was going to sit down and
blissfully race through a commercial free game, my wife asked me to take
the dog out for a quick walk.
A car I didn't recognize pulled up and as the driver leaned
over and rolled down the passenger side window I assumed he'd be asking
for directions. Instead, I recognized an old friend. Before I could say
anything, he blurted, "Can you believe Cal lost?"
That's one reason, which is a good one. It's tough when the
only person I can confidently be around on game day is my wife, who would
never tell me who won or lost, mainly because she generally could care
less who was playing.
The other reason to watch events live is to not give your
fellow human beings the satisfaction of knowing something you don't. Some
people take full advantage of this feeling of superiority.
"You really don't want to know?" they'll ask with a
twinkle in their eye.
"No, I don't," I'll reply. "And if you tell
me, I'll kill you."
Inevitably, they'll say something stupid, thinking they're being
funny, and it will give you a clue as to what happened. A clue that can
ruin the enjoyment of watching the game. Or you'll get a text. Or the
recording will get screwed up, accidentally fast forwarding or prematurely
ending before the climactic moment. All sorts of things can go wrong. Like
I said, stressful. That's why advertisers are somewhat safe.
Aaah, but when it goes blissfully right. Blasting through
those commercials, knowing I spent my day or evening exercising outside,
or reading, or doing something else that is relatively productive instead
of mindlessly being manipulated by the same old advertisers.
Best of all, I'm naïve enough to be cluelessly convinced I'm
watching it live. So please don't tell me who won the Super Bowl. I'm
watching it on Thursday.