(noun) wildly excessive or irrational devotion, dedication, or enthusiasm
–World English Dictionary
I love college football. Some might say too much. On any given Saturday in the fall I can tell you what all of the top games of the weekend are, and usually what times and channels they will be on TV. This past Saturday I looked forward to the Georgia vs LSU game all day. Actually, since Thursday. And neither one of those teams is my favorite.
Many Saturdays growing up I was able to go watch college football games in person, with my cousins. We were all die-hard fans, and while our team wasn’t the best in the land we are in SEC country, so there was plenty to cheer for. We would travel to games several states away sometimes, spending an entire weekend following our team around.
Even now, if there’s a game that involves our home team, and it’s of any national significance, you can bet that we (as a family) will be over at a friends’ house cheering our team on. Sometimes we go to my grandparents’ place. It’s a great time among friends and family, and we always enjoy it.
We Are All Fans Of Something
The word “fan” is short for “fanatic”, and over the last few years I’ve begun to realize just how much fanaticism costs. And I don’t just mean in ticket prices (although those are always on the rise too.) Being a fan or follower of something is almost always going to cost you. Consider the following area:
- Time – This is an obvious one. How much time do you spend in a year watching, following, researching, talking, and otherwise consuming news, sports, politics, entertainment, etc?
- Focus and attention – For me, when there is something on TV or the radio that I’m engaged with I tend to tune out my family. I would imagine that most other folks do that too, whether they know it or not.
- Food – How many meals are prepared quickly, poorly, or not at all in favor of eating in front of the news on TV, or attending a sporting event? How much does food cost when you’re tailgating or attending a sports party in someone’s home?
- Cable/Satellite – For myself, we’ve gotten rid of cable at this point, but I have plenty of friends who maintain expensive packages in order to consume the entertainment or sports of their choice.
- Sleep depravation – This is a problem for me. I can very easily justify staying up until midnight to see a big football game, even when the teams have nothing to do with me personally. It can ruin the next day’s energy level for me, but I do it time and time again.
- Worry or anxiety – Do you take on unnecessary burdens by trying to collect all of the horrible information from the news? I have some family members who are constantly talking about “that horrible accident that happened in the western part of the state” the other day. Horrible events seem to be at the forefront of their minds.
- Personality and reputation – Some people want to be known as “the guy that puts football at the forefront of their life”, but others would rather not be thought of in that way. Your reputation and what you prioritize in your life can influence how other people see and interact with you, shaping your personality.
- Outlook on life – I have a friend whose attitude will take violent swings, for days at a time, depending on how the local football team is doing. I used to be that way when I was younger, but not quite to that extent… still, even a little bit of a mood swing based on something like news or sports is pretty ridiculous when I think about it.
Counting The Costs
When you consider the full price of being a fan, do you consider the cost worth it? Earlier this week I read a post over at Mr. Money Mustache where he talked about disengaging from the 24-hour news cycle due to the addictive nature of news, and the fact that the real motives of news companies are to keep people coming back, not necessarily to have the most accurate or truthful news available.
While I think that the article was fantastic, there are plenty of people who are not crazed lunatics, but who follow what’s going on in the world around them through the news. As long as those people are looking at the whole picture and deciding that they are willing to pay the price, I’m totally fine with it. But when you consume news blindly, without questioning your own priorities in life… well, that’s something you probably want to look into.
Personally, I’m not a mainstream news watcher. I don’t read newspapers, news websites, or follow politicians on Twitter. But when it comes to sports I am WAY too engaged. Between ESPN.com, a few football games a week on TV, talking football with coworkers, filling out football pick ’em pools, listening to ESPN radio while I drive, and playing fantasy football with my family… I’m sure I waste far too many hours of my life with no tangible return except some temporary excitement.
On the other hand I know there’s a balance there. Most of my friends and family are sports lovers. We play sports together, we talk sports, and we compete with each other in any possible way. Not only that, playing sports is a good way to get exercise and enjoy time with your kids. There are many life lessons that can be learned through being part of a team or competing in athletics.
Does that mean I need to watch 5 football games per weekend in the fall? Definitely not. But it does mean that I don’t want to just quit consuming sports cold turkey. It’s an area that I continue to work on prioritizing correctly.
What about you? How do you determine how much media/news/entertainment/sport you want to consume? How much does it dominate your life? What are some practical steps we can take to scale back?
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