Out & About: If you can’t play your sports outside, stay in and watch them

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/13/2022 11:22:00 AM
Modified: 2/13/2022 11:20:13 AM

In mid-February, every weekend the ice is too soft for skating feels like a personal attack, another stubborn block of sleet that I can’t chip off my windshield.

But this year, as outdoor sports are increasingly unreliable, I’ve found the joy of sports indoors. Specifically in front of my TV.

Before this January, I never cared much about football. My husband watches the games each weekend during the season and I would sit with him, reading a book and looking up when he’d react with an outburst of joy, disappointment or the occasional four-letter word.

To me, the games were background noise.

Then the playoffs started, and I discovered how fun it can be to get worked up about something that has no material impact on my life. I wanted certain teams to win over others. I paid attention to what the teams were doing on the field. I even listened patiently as my husband, a Dallas fan, processed their loss to the 49ers in the NFL’s wild card round by recounting every way the Cowboys have failed over the past three decades.

Football gave me a break from my everyday malaise, something to look forward to that wasn’t weather-dependent.

There were distinct enemies to root against, but if the bad guys won, I felt disappointed but not broken. There was comfort in the fact that whatever the outcome of the game, my life would be more or less the same.

Still, watching a game feels like part of a huge collective experience. People all over the country were watching the game, too.

If the NFL playoffs are shared nationwide, the Winter Olympics are worldwide (well, maybe not so much in the tropics).

The athletes and their backstories. The drama found in the competition itself. The comebacks. The athletic achievement. The deep dives into Wikipedia to learn all about the biathlon, then debating with my husband how much the wind speeds and bitter temperatures will impact the athletes’ ability to shoot.

When Nathan Chen finally received his gold medal in men’s figure skating, I teared up watching the replay of his long program. I assume I’m not the only one, and that’s a part of the collective experience, too.

There are, of course, the darker sides of the spectacle. The mistreatment of athletes, the doping scandals, the economic and geopolitical forces at play. I cringe when I see a football player take a hit to the head or see nations spar over human rights records.

Enjoying these events requires a bit of compartmentalizing, and maybe tunnel vision. Focus on what’s on the screen; view it as escapism, as entertainment.

In the bleak winter months, we need to worry about our own mental and physical well-being, too. When the weather outside is frightful, or too frightfully pleasant, I find relief in getting outside my own head.

Take that, February.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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