Life & Stuff

Opinion: Why Sports Consumption is Counterproductive

I have a confession – I am a recovering sports addict. I’ve been sober for about 5 years and they’ve been 5 of the best years of my life.

Sports consumption (mainly watching sports on TV) was a problem my whole life. I consumed very little sports when I was actively engaged in sports and as I got older and transitioned out of organized sports I consumed more of it. Here’s a rough look at the arc of my sports consumption over the years:

(This is not scientifically measured)

In retrospect, I did this exactly wrong. I should have watched more sports (as a learning tool) while I was playing and should have stopped watching sports as I moved out of organized sports. I’ll explain why.

Sports consumption can be a positive experience. It’s an important social bond that helps cultivate great memories and important understandings about the competitive world we live in. But I wonder if, as a society, we don’t overvalue sports consumption substantially.

For me personally, the last 20 years have been a blessing. I am a DC sports fan and it has been mostly awful. The Redskins are an annual nightmare, the Nationals always choke in the playoffs, ditto Capitals and the Wizards (aka, Bullets) are a team named the f&cking Wizards. I would get very emotionally invested in the success of these teams despite the fact that the outcomes of these games had little to no meaningful impact on my overall quality of life. Yeah, it’s fun to hang out and watch a game and I still do that, but being emotionally invested in an event that doesn’t impact your life doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Over time I started to realize that all of this time, emotion and energy invested in sports consumption was a waste. Even when my teams played well there was no real improvement in my quality of life. In fact, if anything, I was just wasting time away from more productive things like work, health and important relationships (like the one with my wife who doesn’t care one iota about sports).

I slowly weaned myself off the addiction and as I stopped investing so much time in sports my quality of life elsewhere improved:

  • I spent more time getting back into organized sports and reaping the health benefits of being more active.
  • I stopped wasting money on negative ROI events like fantasy sports, sports gambling and the money pit that is sports bars.
  • I refocused all of that time and energy into work and relationships that matter.

For instance, there were a bunch of football games on yesterday. I popped on Twitter at one point and saw videos of people freaking out about the outcomes of various games, literally beating each other up at these events and getting emotionally invested in something that really wouldn’t impact their overall quality of life. That used to be me. But I couldn’t tell you anything about what happened in those games yesterday because I was with my wife planting 8 large California Pepper Trees in our yard all day. Those trees will be beautiful memories that leave a generational impact on my family, my kids and their kids. And me and my wife got to bond while we helped plant these beautiful life giving trees. I’m sure that sounds lame to some macho sports fan, but it’s really not.¹ It’s amazing. Talk about a positive ROI.

I still love professional sports. I still enjoy getting together with friends and watching big events. But if you want to become a lot more productive and engage in more positive ROI experiences turning off the TV and the sports consumption is one of the easiest things you can do.

¹ – In fairness to myself, I also cut out some huge old roots around the yard which involved overhead pressing a 200 pound stump and 30 minutes of chainsaw usage. So I definitely had a more macho day than anyone watching sports.