The older you get, the more you find yourself thinking about time. It is an unavoidable part of becoming an adult. At 28-years-old, I have never been more cognizant of time. My days, even my weekends, are organized around some sort of schedule and routine to ensure I get what I need to get done, you know, done. A novel concept, to be sure, but when you mature and are a little less of a dipshit and start prioritizing your time on a more granular level one thing becomes crystal clear: you do not have much time. Between all the articles I have to read, the articles I have to write, the day job I have to work, and even that precious sleep that I have to get, there are only so many hours left to watch the shows I want to binge, the movies I want to view, and the games I have to see.
I simply need more time.
Unfortunately, God hates sportswriter with a propensity to curse, so divine intervention probably isn’t in the cards. So, I have to give up something. To maintain a healthy work-life balance, something has to give. I can’t watch everything. I can’t even read everything. We do the best we can with what we’re given, and, as of this writing, I am at a place where I am trying to keep up with too much in sports.
Too much sports?
As someone who has known what they wanted to be since they were getting up early on Saturday mornings to read the sports section of the newspaper, this kind of sentiment seems preposterous. And, perhaps, it kind of is. If I want to be really good at writing about sports, I have to be really good at watching a lot of sports. You can’t have one without the other. But I don’t have time to watch it all. This is a feeling I haven’t been able to shake since last fall when my weekends were gobbled up by college football games on Saturdays and professional football games on Sunday and, oh, you know, more college football games on Thursdays and more professional football games on Mondays. I was overwhelmed trying to stay on top of Cole McDonald leading Hawaii back into the national spotlight with the return of their spectacular run-and-gun offense while also being tasked with trying to stay on top of how Stephon Gilmore became one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL with the Patriots.
It was just too much.
Once both seasons came to a close, I knew I needed to make a change. I did not want to spend the rest of my adult life having so much of my time tied to sports -- both college and pro. As much as we all love our cake and want to eat it, too, it only leads to an upset stomach. Watching four or five college games a week along with watching four or five NFL games a week is not something I want to do forever.
But it’s more than that; it’s not just that this model isn’t sustainable, it’s that I feel as though the more variety in my football-viewing consumption, the less I feel I know about everything. There is a reason that now, more than ever, sportswriters are finding a niche and sticking to it. Less general sports columns, more NBA film reviews. Rather than know a little bit about everything, sportswriters now would rather know a lot about something. From Zach Lowe to Buster Olney to Aaron Schatz to Bill Connelly to Tom Ziller to Matt Moore to Kevin Clark, the list goes on and on. The best sportswriters today all write about one thing.
This shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise, as it should have been obvious from the start that if you want to be a very good NBA writer you need to watch a very healthy amount of the NBA. To be the next Zach Lowe you have to skip that Sunday Night Football broadcast on NBC for a Kings vs. Suns game on NBA League Pass. There just isn’t enough time for both along with a healthy work-life balance. There simply isn’t enough time to watch it all.
But I think there is a middle ground. Rather than finding my niche in one particular sport that so many people on the internet blogosphere have done, eliminating the collegiate and amateur ranks from my viewing rolodex just might be the answer. College football fans, I’ve noticed, do this already with MLB. (Just take a look at UGA reporter Logan Booker’s Twitter timeline.) Since college baseball isn’t a revenue-generating sport, it isn’t on television all that often so Georgia fans, rather than spending a Tuesday night watching UGA baseball on CBS, watch the Atlanta Braves on Fox Sports South. If they want to watch a local baseball team they have to watch the Braves. Maybe it is a coincidence that so many Georgia football and basketball fans care so much about the Braves and so little about the Diamond Dawgs. I don’t believe that is the case. The content just isn’t available, so they don’t have to make a choice between the Braves and the Dawgs every night, the channel guide makes it for them. Like everything else in 2019, content, or lack thereof in case, trumps all.
It’s frustrating, though, that I wouldn’t have to be making these sort of compromises if college football and college basketball hadn’t become the behemoths they have become over the years. But I suspect even those that claim to be big college basketball fans did not watch a healthy dose of Seton Hall, Stanford and Alabama basketball throughout the course of the season. It was, likely, just a March Madness bender. What is the point of watching any of it if you can’t watch enough of it to be comfortable voicing any sort of strong, educated opinion on the subject? There is a reason we value the Todd McShay’s and the Jonathan Givony’s of the world -- their opinions hold weight because they actually do watch enough to form strong, educated opinions on the storylines and players in the amateur ranks. I’d love to be able to tell you a lot about Cam Reddish’s game, but I didn’t watch a Duke game all season, so I’m not going to do anything of the sort. If I can’t accrue enough game-watching and article-reading moments in time for that particular league, why bother at all?
But with college football it’s different. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, and, folks, let me tell you, it just -- I’m so sorry -- means more here. Not caring about college football in the fall is an easy way to find yourself ostracized in most social settings. Now, if you’re a 20-something in Atlanta who abstains from college football and alcohol, in the words of that Very Bad Man in TAKEN, “Good Luck.” As a loner since birth, the subtraction of college football from my life isn’t all that concerning. As a family-minded person since birth, the subtraction of college football from my life is concerning. My dad, my brother, my mom, my uncles, my cousins, my grandparents, and so many other humans that I really care about all really care about their teams -- Tennessee, Georgia, Florida State, Alabama, etc. If there was a family gathering I was present at in the last 28 years that didn’t include at least a bit of college football talk, I had to have dreamed it. My family loves arguing about college football almost as much Erick Erickson loves boycotting Asian food on December 7.
But I’m OK with not talking about it anymore. I have long been annoyed with the NCAA, have long found it gross that not every professional league follows the MLB or NHL model -- or even the European Soccer Prodigy model -- when it comes to athletes having to go to college when they shouldn’t have to. I have long been annoyed at the growing plutocracy in college football where only a handful of teams can win a title by virtue of just recruiting extremely well for a four-year stretch. I have long been annoyed with just arguing with my family about college football and, really, just having an opinion about it at all. (Have you ever listened to other people talk about a subject you don’t already have an opinion on? It’s delightful.) I want to know nothing. I want to know as little about Washington’s defense as Vince McMahon knows about creativity in 2019.
Still, there will be casualties. I’ll have less things in common with people I care about, but that is unavoidable if I want my fall back. Maybe one day, instead of ever paying players, college sports is just removed from America’s television screens and we can all watch the same stuff and be happy and, wow, that is never happening. I will sacrifice Thanksgiving arguments with uncles for Saturday nights at the movies with absolute zero hesitation.
I want more balance. I want to just focus on the professionals. I want to watch professional actors on the big screen; I want to watch professional actors on the small screen; I want to watch professional athletes on all the screens; I even want to watch professional wrestlers on all the screens. I can keep up with MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS, WWE, and the Premier League. I cannot keep up with all of those sports along with their amateur counterparts. I tried and I hated it. I hated not knowing enough to feel confident in my perspectives. So, I’ll do what Georgia football and basketball fans do when it comes to their baseball team -- I’ll just watch the pros.