Earlier this year, I shared my New Year’s resolution to limit the amount of time that I spend watching and following sports. I’ve had several people ask me if I’ve kept up with it.
The short answer is that I’m sticking with it, and it’s really been good for a lot of reasons.
First, from a mental health standpoint, it’s a relief not to constantly worry about how my teams are doing. I still sort of pay attention, but nothing like it used to be. As an example, my English soccer team has had a bad season and they’ve no hope of improving. In past years, I would have been deeply depressed and gloomy. I feel bad for the team, but their poor performance isn’t affecting my day-to-day mood. My life no longer feels like it revolves around sports and how my teams are doing. I honestly just care less.
I didn’t watch any part of the NCAA basketball tournament. Not one minute. I didn’t even miss it. 25 years ago, I would take off the first Thursday and Friday of the tournament to watch as many games as possible. To go from that to not watching AND not even knowing who won? It feels like a miracle.
The shocking part for me is that I don’t miss it! I live on the line between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals, so we care a lot about which team is your team. Years ago, I made the youth girls’ softball league move my second grader from the Cubs to the Cardinals. That’s how deep the rivalry runs. I had someone ask me who my favorite baseball team was recently, and it took me a second to remember. I walked away shaking my head because I’ve ALWAYS been a Cardinal fan.
An additional (and unintended) benefit to come out of my new relationship with sports is that I’m spending less money. Since I mostly watched TV for sports, I canceled my YouTube TV subscription, ESPN, and the other sports services that I used to have. Then, I realized that we never watched anything on a couple of other non-sports services, so I canceled those as well. In addition to TV subscriptions, I canceled my online subscriptions to ESPN+ and The Athletic. As a result, I’m saving roughly $200 per month! I never realized how much I spent on this stuff until I really sat down and looked at the numbers.
Another unforeseen benefit is that I don’t snack as much as I used to. I tend to eat junk food when watching a game, but now that I don’t watch very much, I’ve found less need to be eating all the time. I’ve actually lost some weight!
The real challenge for me will come this fall when it’s college football season because I really enjoy football. However, I’ve started to question the enjoyment of a game where kids are destroying their bodies for my entertainment. Thinking of it in this way helps me to put the game in perspective. I love the game but I am having trouble with the way that we toss those players aside when they are no longer useful on the field, and that weighs heavily on my mind.
At the end of the day, I’m happier, healthier, and wealthier from my silly little resolution that I made almost as a joke. That’s a pretty good deal in my book.
This past month was Mental Health Awareness Month. The people who work in the Mental Health arena are overworked and underappreciated. They care about their patients so much more than we realize and often go above and beyond their requirements. For them, it is a labor of love; they want to make a difference in people’s lives.
If you know someone who works in Mental Health, give them a hug and thank them for their service to a community that desperately needs their help. They need to know that you care about the work that they do. And buy them a cup of coffee with the money you saved from not paying for ESPN. Thanks.