Terry Lancaster has some life-changing advice to offer, just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.
Judging by my social media feeds and small talk in line at the coffee shop, there’s a football game coming up soon and it’s kind of a big deal.
I’m pretty excited about Super Bowl 50 myself, maybe for slightly different reasons:
The day after the Super Bowl is the happiest day of the year for me because I should be able to go 5 maybe 6 months without football being the only thing everyone wants to talk about.
I’m a little uncomfortable with the whole concept of spectator sports. Spectator sports is an oxymoron like governmental efficiency and well-behaved children.
The truth of the matter is that spectator sports is pornography.
Not lock the office door, turn down the volume, and clear the browser history pornography, but pornographic in the sense that we’ve idealized and objectified athletes in the same way we’ve idealized and objectified solid granite counter tops, exotic sports cars … and the old bearded dudes on Duck Dynasty.
As a culture, we like to watch.
We crave heroes to worship, and we lift athletes up as shining examples of what you can do if you put your heart, your mind, and your back into it.
But we’ve taken their hard work and accomplishment and turned it into an excuse to sit around a 60-inch TV screen eating Cheetos and drinking light beer.
The blood and grass stains on their uniforms do not equate with the Cheetos stains on our fingers.
Our admiration suffocates our participation.
We’d rather watch than play.
I’ve been playing rec league hockey with my buddies every Sunday night for the last couple of decades and people who know how much I love playing will often ask why I don’t go to more NHL games. I always tell them the same thing:
“They don’t come watch me play. Why should I go watch them?”
It drives me crazy every year on Super Bowl Sunday when our regular Sunday night hockey league is cancelled so everyone can stay home and WATCH a football game. I don’t get it.
Football is the perfect content to trick us into watching more TV because, since almost nothing happens, it requires very little attention and leaves lots of time to slip in the commercials and promotional announcements.
In fact, commercial minutes outnumber football minutes by almost 5 to 1!
An average football broadcast lasts about three hours from pregame commentary to the post game interviews. You even get a half time show. But for the vast majority of those three hours nothing happens. There’s no there, there.
The last time I tried attending a pro football game, I actually fell asleep. Seriously. nothing happens.
In the average three hour broadcast there’s actually about 12 minutes of play going on. Snap to whistle.
Now the first time I read that, I didn’t believe. It doesn’t even make sense. Why would millions of people spend three hours to watch 54 minutes of commercials (18 minutes an hour) and 12 minutes of football?
I recorded a game on my DVR once and fast forwarded through all the huddles and the replays and the commercials and the in-depth analysis, and yes, even the cheerleaders.
It took about 12 minutes.
If you do the math, it works out that the actual playing time in a Hall of Fame football career is about 20 hours.
Legends are made. Fortunes are built. Legacies created. All based on one good solid part-time work week.
The genius of football is what it makes us think. How it makes us feel.
Football sprinkles crazy dust in our brain and makes us think we’re all jocks because we spend countless hours a week watching TV, drinking beer, and eating nachos. And believe me, if watching TV, drinking beer, and eating nachos were an Olympic event, America would win hands down. We own that shit.
And none of this is meant to denigrate the actual athletes on the field, the men in the arena. They are for the most part shining examples of what we can accomplish with hard work, dedication and focus. They spend their entire lives from Pop Warner leagues on up preparing for those 12 minutes on Sunday afternoon. They’ve bet it all on being at their best in that brief shining moment when it counts.
That’s worthy of recognition. More importantly it’s worthy of emulation. We should do more of that.
Management consultants will tell you to learn the difference between your areas of concern and your areas of influence. Then concentrate your energies on things that you can affect.
Dale Carnegie tells us not to worry about things we can’t control.
And The Serenity Prayer asks for serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference.
No matter how many times you wear your favorite player’s jersey inside out … No matter how loudly you yell at the screen … No matter how many times you call the idiot jerk on the sports talk show to set him straight … You have zero power to control, affect, or influence the sports you’re watching on the tube. Zero.
Your area of influence is what happens in the area right around you. With the people right around you. Your family. Your friends. Your business associates.
To the extent that watching sports can help you form a bond or sense of community with them, I’m all for it.
But you know what’s better for building bonds and community than watching other people do stuff? Actually getting off your ass and doing stuff yourself.
Do stuff with the people you love. Do stuff with the people you work with. Do stuff with people you want to work with.
Turn off the TV and get in the game.