Are you ready for some football? This is the opening weekend of the NFL season, and I’ve watched a grand total of 0 games. I did watch some highlights and a part of the Sunday night game, but that was it. Granted, I’m a Giants fan and they don’t play until tonight, but I’m not sure I’ll catch that in its entirety either. This type of behavior would be unheard of for me back in my sports fanatic days.
As I have mentioned in the past, I’ve never had cable television and didn’t have it growing up. I loved watching the NFL, NBA and MLB, and while football wasn’t a problem since it was generally available on broadcast television, I often couldn’t watch most Knicks or my Yankees on television (well Yankee games were somewhat available). I would listen to the games on the radio. No, I’m not an old-timer growing up before the invention of television, this was the 1980s and 1990s. I would also watch the highlights of the games during the 5 minute sports section of the local evening news. I waited in anticipation of actually seeing the highlights of what I heard on the radio! I also READ the box scores in the next days newspaper and knew every player on every team, even the last man on the bench. So, yes, I think I can say that I was a sports fanatic.
I still remember vividly watching the Knicks take on the Bulls in a crucial Game Five of the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals (some playoff games were available on broadcast television). In the final seconds of the game, with the Knicks trying to take the lead, Charles Smith of the Knicks attempted 4 layups but they were either blocked or he missed. The Knicks would go on to lose that game and the series. I was devastated! I ripped up a nearby newspaper which had Michael Jordan’s face on it. I screamed in anguish and turned off the television, and stormed off into my room. My dad was watching the game, when I suddenly turned it off and vented my frustration. He came to my room and asked me why I was making such a big fuss. He said that it was just a game and that the players make millions of dollars playing it. I’m not sure that was too reassuring or whether I cared what he said at that point, but he’s right.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being passionate about sports. It is highly entertaining and it’s wonderful to have something to follow, to cheer for. However, with the great costs which is generally involved in watching sports or attending sporting events, sometimes, you need to reevaluate your priorities. Natalie who blogs at FinanceGirl posted an article recently which mentions a listener question on the Dave Ramsey show. The listener wanted to spend $1500 to go to a football game, and yet did not have an emergency fund saved. Ramsey said that while he loves sports, “it’s a game; you don’t put that ahead of your family’s financial foundation.”
I know many people who are not in the best financial shape, but go to great lengths to follow their favorite teams. They travel to away games and have season tickets to the home games, and pretty much nothing can prevent them from missing any game. They put watching and cheering for their team as priority #1, no matter the costs (financial or otherwise). Watching sports not only costs hundreds of dollars (whether you buy tickets to games or have a subscription that shows the games), it also takes up a lot of your time.
Once again, there’s nothing wrong with watching sports. Just remember that ultimately, “it’s only a game.” A game where the owners are raking in billions and the players are making millions from the money spent by the fans. I’ll still watch games, but I’m no longer a sports fanatic. Although even as a sports fanatic, I’ve never spent a whole lot of money on it. I’ve never had a cable subscription and have only attended a few basketball and baseball games. Football tickets were always way too expensive. Nowadays with the picture quality of televisions, I wonder why many fans still spend hundreds on tickets. If you like the raucous atmosphere of being at the event, you can have your sports fanatic friends over or go to a sports bar.
How about you? Are you a sports fanatic? What’s the most you’ve spent on a sporting event?