I’m a huge sports fan. I always have been. I’ve played sports at every level; from high school to college. I still play and coach today. For the most part, I consider myself an athlete. But there’s one activity that doesn’t involve any physical exertion at all, and yet still takes up hours of my day: watching sports scores.
It’s not because I have a lot of free time, or because I don’t have anything else to do with my life (I have four kids under the age of 10). It’s just that social media has made it so easy to keep track of every single game being played at any given time. And, as anyone who follows sports knows, checking social media is completely addicting.
Let’s take a look at how much time it takes out of my day:
Multiple studies have shown that those who follow a team for an entire season average about 4.5 hours per week watching games or reading about scores, standings, and updates. If you are a member of a fantasy league, add another 1.75 hours to this figure. That’s 6.25 hours per week!
In addition to watching games and following scores on social media, many people spend time reading articles, watching interviews, and participating in discussions with friends and coworkers on the topic of their favorite sport. While these habits are not as time-consuming as watching the actual game itself, they can be just as distracting and take away valuable time that could be used more productively.
The purpose of this blog is to show how much time is wasted following sports when there are other more important things that need your attention. Some examples are work responsibilities, family obligations, physical fitness activities, or personal hobbies that could be more beneficial than spending 6 hours per week watching other people play sports.
It’s time to finally admit that we waste an incredible amount of time watching sports. I’m not just talking about the time spent watching games. I’m talking about the time wasted on social media, reading articles, and checking scores. What if we could get that time back?
Over the course of a lifetime, the average person will spend at least 10 years watching sports. According to research done by the New York Times, the average American spends 5 hours a day consuming media. Out of those five hours, almost half are spent on watching sports (2.25 hours). That breaks down to 611 days in your lifetime spent just watching sports (2.25 hours x 365 days). As if that wasn’t enough, we also spend countless more hours checking stats, news, social media and wasting valuable time reading up on sports; all for what? Nothing!
To be fair, these numbers are for Americans, but it is safe to assume that other countries aren’t far off from this data. The point is: We waste so much time on sports. Let’s get our lives back!
If you are like me, you may be a sports fan. But why do we keep up with the scores on TV? Why do we check our phones to see the latest score on a game whose outcome we will not affect in any way? We may want to watch the game later, but what if the results were leaked to us? Would it really make watching the games later less enjoyable?
This is an argument for league play. By this I mean that there should be multiple games played simultaneously and that everyone watches every game. Scores would be posted per team per player rather than by sport and teams would have substitutes who could take over at any time during the game. This would allow for a much more evenly matched competition and personal statistics would be more meaningful.
By doing this, sports fans would not need to waste time keeping up with the scores at all. They could simply watch the games at their leisure and know immediately how each player did. It would also encourage players to perform better because they know their stats will appear on social media once they finish playing.
I do not like sports.
This is not an original position. There are lots of people who don’t like sports. Some of them are anti-sports, and dislike the whole idea of competition, or of using up resources to watch other people exert themselves. I am not one of those people. I have no problem with competition being a major part of our culture; it’s just not something I want to participate in personally. That doesn’t mean I begrudge others their enjoyment of sports, or think they’re stupid for caring about them; it just means that for me, watching a game or following a season is about as interesting as going to a bar and watching other people get drunk.
I’m not even convinced that the time spent watching games is “wasted,” in the sense that we would all be better off if everyone spent it doing something else. Sports entertainment is clearly valuable; ESPN makes lots of money by providing it, and presumably wouldn’t if no one watched it. But as an individual, I’d personally prefer to spend my time differently.
So far this is all fairly normal and uncontroversial. What’s less normal is my attitude towards keeping up with scores on social media—not just Facebook posts but also Twitter, Slack messages, email
Not too long ago, it was tough to know what was going on in the rest of the league. You could try to watch every game, but considering that teams play 82 regular season games and often several playoff games that adds up to a lot of TV time. And even if you had the time, you still wouldn’t know who won unless you watched the whole game.
But these days, you can easily check the scores at any time. You can just pull out your phone and tap a couple times. Or if you don’t have your phone handy, you can check on your computer or your tablet or your smartwatch or at least one of a dozen other devices.
Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a science fiction movie where superintelligent aliens are secretly controlling our lives. The only way I know this isn’t happening is that I can’t think of any reason an alien would care what the score of the Lakers game is.
Sports scores are pretty boring. Everyone knows who won, and if they don’t, they can find out very quickly with just a few taps on their phone. The problem is that you never know when someone else is going to be interested in the scores or what the score was.
When I was in college a friend of mine would watch football games on his computer as he played video games. If a score would change he would hear the audio cue and he would immediately stop what he was doing to check it out. Once he knew what happened and if his team was up or down he would continue his game as if nothing had happened.
This behavior isn’t uncommon in professional sports. When I worked at an NBA team, everyone was constantly looking at phones, laptops, or televisions checking to see what was happening in other games around the league. There’s a lot of money at stake when you’re fighting for playoff positioning.
A couple years ago I noticed that I was spending a lot of time reading about sports or listening to sports radio when I should have been working on something else more important. It wasn’t because I cared about the outcome of any particular game but I felt like I needed to “stay informed” so that if