Never, Maybe, Sometimes, Yes!

Never: in fact, I won’t even stay in the room. Well, maybe as background noise when I’m knitting. Sometimes, but only if I have a player/team/country to cheer for. Yes! Anywhere! Anytime!

“Huh?” you might be thinking. “What *are* you talking about? And why do you keep changing your answer?”

Sports is the subject and, strictly speaking, my answers change only when the question does. The questions all start the same way . . .

Will you watch . . .

and then go on to specify a sport. Like this: “Will you watch boxing?” And the answer is . . .

Never: in fact, I won’t even stay in the room.

Hockey? Tennis? Football? American football?

Well, maybe as background noise when I’m knitting.

Golf? Baseball? Volleyball? Olympic races that require no special knowledge to tell who’s winning?

but only if I have a player/team/country to cheer for.


Yes! Anywhere! Anytime!

This all came to a head in my head last week while the 2021 World Series was on. Now, I would say that I enjoy watching baseball. I love the highlight reels: watching a finely executed double play or a player diving to make an impossible catch is uh-may-ZING. I’ve watched the 30-minute recaps of Blue Jays’ games. I loved to attend a handful of Spring Training games in Phoenix in the Before Time. But although the World Series is the game’s iconic championship series, I watched only a few innings in passing. Why? Because I had no dog in this hunt — I mean, At-alanta versus Houston-we-have-a-problem? Who cares? — and it turns out I need a dog if I’m investing more time than those astounding highlight reels require.

Yet at the same time, I was glued to the set for a men’s curling game. A clash of two titans at the height of their powers, perhaps? Not so much. It was the B-side men’s final: a down-to-the-wire conflict between a young Kingston team I’d never heard of and Glenn Howard, who I’ve heard about for 30 years.

A Canadian championship, then? A bonspiel weighted with tradition, perchance? Not really. It was the Canadian Curling Pre-Trials and the prize was the very last berth in the Canadian Olympic Trials, the winner of which will get a berth in the Olympics. No, there’s no way around it: This game was a long way from glory. Nor did I particularly care who won: no Westerners were involved.

But it was curling.

So that got me to thinking about my categories for sports-watching. I could identify two, right away:

  • Ones I would watch if I had some passing understanding of the game and cared who won – like golf and tennis tournaments with Canadians in contention, and volleyball with grandchildren in contention.
  • Ones I would watch, period – like, well, curling. OK, a category of one.

But a few minutes of reflection made it clear that I had to add a third category:

  • Ones I would watch if I cared enough about the event (think hockey for the Stanley Cup final, baseball for the World Series, and swimming, running, and rowing at the Olympic Games). Include in this category select social/cultural events (think football, but only for the Grey Cup and Super Bowl).

And then there were the sports that I would glance at for the exciting bits in replay while knitting in front of the TV: Think hockey and baseball through their seemingly endless and weirdly overlapping seasons.

Finally, there were sports that usually drove me out of the room: Some because of people getting smacked up the head on purpose (think boxing), some because I can’t see the plays as they’re forming (think basketball), some because I can’t see the plays as they’re forming AND nothing ever happens (think soccer), some because it’s horses.

I had hoped for a neat 2×2 matrix presentation — Maybe “cares about outcome” paired with “has a faint idea of what’s happening”? — but that meta-analysis awaits another day and maybe another analyst. What emerged instead was a pie chart, using the dozen or so sports mentioned above to calculate the proportions.


And that’s just considering the sports that come to mind. To my mind. If I consider a broader list, the picture would be even more lopsided: These all fall into the “Never” category.

archery bowling bungee jumping cricket cycling
darts fencing figure skating fishing
gymnastics hang gliding ice skating jet skiing
judo karate kickboxing pool rock climbing
roller skating scuba diving skateboarding skiing
sky diving snowboarding sumo wrestling surfing
table tennis taekwondo water skiing
weight lifting wind surfing


Anyway, I got this far and then my favourite indoor activity — Chasing after what my subconscious gets up to, overnight — took over. Watching a grandkid, or a favourite player/team, or a lone Canadian in a herd of international competitors isn’t really watching the sport: It’s celebrating the person/people. Similarly, watching a highlight reel isn’t really watching the sport(s) represented: It’s being awed by human excellence in the damnedest things. That line of thinking generated a new pie chart.


Whichever analysis (sic) is right, I expect team owners and broadcasters hope that with respect to being a watcher of sports, I’m like curling: a category of one. Otherwise, they should seriously consider a new line of work. And I begin to think that one of my brothers-in-law is onto something.

Why would you watch a sport
when you could be playing it instead?

Well, except curling. It’s all good, all the time.


For more on curling:

National Treasure #105

Thanks, Dad

Only in Canada

This entry was posted in Laughing Frequently, Sports and Exercise, Sports Videos and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Never, Maybe, Sometimes, Yes!

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – once you understand soccer it does become the “beautiful game”. That’s because it combines elements of chess with a requirement for exceptional cardio-vascular physical fitness and exceptional eye-foot coordination. (Most sports require exceptional eye-hand coordination which the doctors claim is way more common.)
    I like volleyball, but I’ll bet you’d have a different opinion of soccer (or any other sport) if that was the sport your grandkids were playing. Not that I have any, but I find that grandkids have that effect on their grandparent.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – I expect you’re right. When I had (involuntary) occasion to watch a whack of hockey, with knowledgeable people beside me in the stands, I did eventually learn to see some of what was happening. I expect with some reason to make an effort, I might make the same progress with soccer. I’m already to the point that I can appreciate a highlight. Especially executed by a Canadian. 🙂

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    I find I’m interested in sports only when I can imagine myself playing them. Hockey, therefore, only during the years when our son was playing in a local league, and I got on the ice as a parent-assistant. Since then, I can occasionally admire the skill, grace , and power of skaters, but I am appalled at the level of violence endemic on the ice. I cannot understand why the league gets upset enough to fire people over a player’s (alleged) sexual assault years ago, but no one sees anything wrong in smashing Sidney Crosby against the boards for his fourth (fifth? sixth? Is anyone keeping count?) concussion.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Yeah, it took me a long time to get over 70’s hockey – I went to a fight last night and a hockey game broke out – but it did get better for a long while, I think. It seems to be getting more violent again, but I don’t follow it closely enough to be sure. Curling is remarkably calm.

  3. Once when I was visiting my friend in England, I joined her in watching televised rugby for about five days. I did come to appreciate it more as she explained some rules and tactics. However, when I went home and tried to watch it, rugby fell into the “never” category again. Probably what I enjoyed was friendship.

    Curling – anytime, anywhere! Television has made watching even better!!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Enthusiasm can be contagious, I think – and having someone to explain the rules and point out the plays is a big help. But it does take a while to stick . . . 🙂 I think it helps that I curled as a young woman – sometime in the 14th century? – and even though the professionals are incomparably better, I bring some experience to the table.

  4. Tom Watson says:

    Baseball is my favourite, but this World Series held the least interest for me of any in recent memory. Normally, I would have stayed up late to watch the end of games, but not this year.

    I usually watch curling. I haven’t gotten into it yet this year but will.

    I’ll categorize a few other sports:
    Golf: Used to, not as much lately.
    Football: Only the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl.
    Hockey: Used to, now only if pressed.
    Soccer: Is anything else on?
    Basketball: You’ve gotta be kidding! Even the Property Brothers might be better and I try to avoid that show.


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I figured you for a baseball hound. 🙂 The Eastern time zone would be a problem for watching North American sports, even if I were so inclined – too much of it goes too late for me! Golf at least has the courtesy to wrap things up at 6PM local – 7 at the latest – which puts it within my reach. I notice that you don’t mention whether you watch fishing shows . . .

  5. Tom Watson says:

    Do they still have fishing shows on TV? I recall, back in the 1960s, watching a fishing show several times. The host, as I recall, was Red Fisher. Apt name, no?

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