There's a practical reason for this: I haven't bothered to get a digital antenna for my TV/DVD player. My building's cable provider did its own digital conversion earlier this year, so I'd need a box to watch cable or a digital antenna to watch anything that's not on a DVD. So I've gone without watching live television. I still borrow movies and TV shows on DVD, and do some show watching on my iPad, but I've had much less boob tube time.
Football is a big thing I like to watch live. Or at least see highlights of: I was grinning like an idiot last night as I saw highlights from Oregon's pounding of Virginia (that's a stadium I've been in!). But for now, to watch it regularly, I'd have to go elsewhere, like bars. Which I've done before, but that'd get expensive quickly. I know from experience, and I need my money right now for other things.
But I need convictions more. Or to feel like I'm acting on convictions.
Football culture in general has felt uglier and uglier lately. It's been an off-season of arrests, convictions, accusations, and me even no longer following fired NFL'er Chad Johnson on Twitter because he doesn't, seem, to be, learning lessons or figuring out how he's repeatedly messed up. And the specter of the bodily harm more and more current and former players are exhibiting is also leaching the pleasure I've gotten from watching, as my former editor (and football fan) Lukas Kendall once put it, "giant men who smash into each other."
Earlier this year, I read author Laura Anne Gilman (suricattus), an even bigger football fan than me, say why she won't watch the NFL at all this season:
The culture we have created around football players – around ALL sports figures – that tells them that they are somehow more valued than the women around them. It (we) tells them they can do terrible things – they can shoot their girlfriends, they can rape classmates, they can abuse women in general – and society will treat them as Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, the Steubenville rapists, were treated, with concern for what their actions did to their lives rather than those of their victim. As though they had merely been pranksters, rather than criminals.
No. Also, hell no.
I'm not watching because it's inconvenient and expensive for me to do so.
She's not watching because it's become, to her, toxic.
I'm not doing it from a place of conviction. She is. I've had this problem before.
I thought similar thoughts about, of all things, Survivor. As I've said before, I went from an anti-Survivor snob during that first season to becoming a fan in its second season -- I even recapped an episode for a friend when she'd missed it -- to watching almost every season since Survivor: Gabon in 2008. But there's been ugliness on the show in more recent seasons; people taking part in the contest have had what look like emotional breakdowns, and the show can highlight that for the purposes of drama. I know at least one big Survivor fan who no longer watches because of that.
And I'll likely not watch this season because watching it would be, again, inconvenient.
Not a big reason. Not a conviction reason. And I'm not even sure I'll be able to resist seeking out at least the latest season premiere once it's online.
Can I commit to this? Can I say "no" to things that give me pleasure if they do so for increasingly wrong reasons?
Maybe. Hey, at least I can read. Or maybe I'll make up for not watching football by finally watching all of Friday Night Lights end to end.
* Like "UPSET ALERT: Geno Smith has a completion to a New York Jet." I like Faux John Madden.