One of my most favourite pastimes is watching sport on television. It enables me to feel like a participant, even though I don’t have to move a muscle – well atleast no more than the muscles involved in making myself more comfortable on the couch. I can have a bit of a snooze if I want and I can become emotionally connected to the game when it gets exciting.
I love watching a whole range of sports – it could be the tennis or the Tour de France. Even car racing, Formula 1 or the V8s, has me sitting in front of the television. I can watch it in a way that I don’t miss a single thing or I can read or do other things and check in from time to time – sometimes I miss an exciting moment but it’s usually replayed a few times so I can see it in full later anyway.
I love watching the way the sportspeople cope with the pressures of their sport. The physical strain is often enormous as they flex their muscles against each other or manipulate their bike or car to maintain maximum effectiveness. Probably what I love the most though is the psychological angle – as they pit themselves against each other or even themselves. I wonder what they are thinking as they show signs of deep concentration. Perhaps they are in a moment of flow, that deep capacity to be fully in the moment, fully focused and able to perform at their best. What about those times when they make errors? Have they shifted out of flow, is their physical capacity letting them down or have they been distracted by something else – a random thought or something in the environment which has taken their attention away for that fleeting second?
As I reflect on this bleary-eyed after another late night watching them, I have to admire their tenacity, their commitment to the physical, cognitive and emotional effort involved in the training and their willingness to do this all just for me, for my viewing pleasure, as I sit relaxed on my couch in the comfort of my warm, safe home.