Good afternoon. Welcome to my newly formed "Assumptions & Generalizations" group.
Topics covered in this group are based on trends and practices which are generally true. There will be exceptions to all points argued in this column, but this group does not focus on exceptions, it bases its opinions on the behavior of large segments of the population. It's a percentage game. This article is only an opinion. The comment section below is open at all times for polite rebuttals.
I have heard frequent comments from women--especially within the last two weeks, which welcomed a new NFL season, a golfing major tournament, and a heightened Major League Baseball playoff race--about how they lose their husbands to televised sports events.
These wives do not seem to be complaining. It is more of an expression of resignation and incomprehension: "I really don't understand the attraction to watching 23 minutes of action stretched over three or four hours. But, he and his buddies never miss a Sunday. When they're in their NFL zone, there's no getting through to them."
Exactly. That's the point.
Once one becomes a 'fan' of a particular sport or team or player, the appreciation of competition--as well as the reasons which drive that sentiment--become more complex. With time, comes an understanding of the history of the sport, a sense of the rivalry between players or teams, and a connection to a personality with which an organization represents itself.
Fans eventually become brand-loyal. But, what prompts men to become enthusiasts for televised sport in the first place?
For some, it is through childhood development and parental osmosis. They participated in a particular sport throughout their youth; following their hero or heroes was a part of an athletic coming-of-age ritual. They may also identify with their fathers or grandfathers whose ceremonial appreciation for a telecast (or radio broadcast) of their home team remains a fond childhood memory.
For others--those who may not have had that particular boyhood experience. The motivation may be much simpler:
A televised sporting event is an excuse to disengage from other responsibilities.
Parents, especially, have tremendous obligations towards others: their spouse; their children; their children's school; their children's after-school activities; their office jobs; maintaining basic household machinery; an ever-present need for home repair and possibly also caring for their own aging parents.
These women and mothers--who are bewildered at their husbands' attraction to televised football--do a far better job of compartmentalizing time for themselves than do their spouses.
They regularly organize spa days, walking groups, book clubs and girls' nights out as proper diversions from life's other demands.
Their spouses have a less varied repertoire of distraction.
Men find it more difficult to express their need for alone time, and their wives have more difficulty accepting that need .
Televised sport is a permission slip to disconnect from being a father, an employee, a husband and a home's general contractor. It is more permissible to say "I'm watching the game" than it is to declare "I need time away from everybody to do nothing."
For largely stereotypical reasons, men do not organize their own spa days or walking groups. While we keep an eye on the game for any goals, touchdowns or hit-and-run situations, men often have more therapeutic conversations with their friends concerning their relationships, their children, and their mental state than they ever would during a phone call.
Husbands and fathers may express a responsibility to support the team, but Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons may be just as much about a responsibility towards themselves to feel completely free from responsibility for 3 or 4 hours once a week.