Television leaves such a visible imprint on all of our lives, whether we choose to admit it or not. Just recalling my own personal experiences, I spend hours upon hours dissecting some random new mystery series—HBO’s “True Detective” is really, really good, by the way—or merely catching the end of the latest marquee sporting event, in the hope of staying connected with the world around me and relaxing. Flipping through some channels until something worthwhile pops up can be both informative and soothing at the same time.
But, I don’t really watch that much TV while I’m away at school because the constant access to it isn’t quite there. And so, I’m reminded of the kind of stuff that escapes my immediate consciousness nowadays—as I struggle through some homework and spend my free time exercising or whatever else. Just the other day, I watched some of ESPN’s daily SportsCenter telecast for what seemed to be the first time in months. Back home, I tune in pretty frequently so that I can be updated on the latest breaking news, trades and free agents, and the general sports landscape at the moment; yet, when I’m at school, the daily SportsCenter check-in seems to elude me.
So, as I watched the show for the first time in a while just a few days ago, a pretty basic question really struck me: SportsCenter is really cool and exciting in moderate doses, but am I really missing anything when I don’t watch it? Am I really missing out when I’m not being updated 24/7?
Truth be told, I don’t really miss SportsCenter—or any ESPN creation, for that matter—when I’m away from it for some time. It becomes overwhelmingly repetitive, to the point where each tidbit of relevant (or irrelevant) information overloads my mind. The steady flow of updates, minute after minute after minute, can quickly cause an overflow. Details are overanalyzed, while athletes, coaches and your team’s bumbling general manager are scrutinized twenty times too many just to fill the required time slot.
Every single little thing, talked about and talked about some more. One pundit here, the other coming on in thirty minutes. One topic here, the other in five seconds! Stay tuned! I have to stay tuned to this guy and that guy and him and her–this minor development and that one—until, at some point, I just can’t take anymore.
I can’t hear about Johnny Manziel’s height and hand size one more time. What Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith think about that random football player’s minor misstep doesn’t really matter that much, after I listen to the “authentic” opinions of countless other pundits in repetitive cycles. Did LeBron James stare at his head coach the wrong way after that one possession? Why does Bryce Harper flex his guns after making a big play? Who’s on the Mount Rushmore of basketball accomplishment? With so many questions comes so much cyclical discussion.
Valid subjects of discussion, maybe, but they don’t require hours of inspection and fiery debate. Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN to you and me) derives its profit by dedicating coverage to anything and everything related to current events in sports and athletic competition at various levels—and this, precisely, leaves some wiggle room for overkill. By exposing all of us to everything that’s happening in the sports world, we are left with excess, regurgitation and a lot of loud noises.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re also exposed to all kinds of valuable content that sheds light on not only current events, but potential injustices and tragedies in the sports world—the 30 for 30 series of documentaries captivates me in particular. But, there’s a lot of extra fat there that needs some quick trimming. Jadeveon Clowney’s bench press mark at the annual NFL Scouting Combine may be interesting to some, but why repeat it a dozen times in a day and for three days a week? I can hear about the “225 for 21” once or maybe even twice, but listening to a broken track record does me no good.
Sometimes, enough is enough. I can take SportsCenter in a reasonable dosage because it provides updates in rapid-fire succession, informs the viewer of all that’s significant at the time, and sheds some serious light on key issues–but when I fall prey to watching it one time too many, there’s really no point. The world of sports really isn’t that important, to the point where it overloads the mind and fills a day to its utmost capacity.
After a while, the pundits and the opinions and even the highlights just serve to hammer away at my willingness to absorb more–moreover, at my ability to consume, as a consumer in a capitalistic society. And they cast a grave dent in my finite patience.
So, yes, television brings us a lot of cool and interesting things. Yet, clicking the remote and flipping the channels and tuning in for a chunk at a time should only be done in steady moderation. Exposing oneself to excess by way of TV does absolutely no good in the long run—it’s not only a waster of time, but a killer of curiosity and mental capacity. Different people obviously watch different things, but SportsCenter is certainly a representation of television’s excess when taken in one dose after another.
I enjoy watching sometimes, but it gets to the point of too much. The sports world is a fascinating one—and not many people out there are as fascinated by it as I am—but enough can just be enough after a period of time, simple as that. Television is a powerful tool, but it can just as easily become a burdensome one.