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home : opinions : letters to the editor   April 30, 2016

1/29/2013 9:38:00 AM
Column: The luxury of part-time fandom

Craig Sterrett
News Editor

I’ve been accused of being a fair-weather fan, perhaps by people who wonder why I’m not keeping up with my St. Louis Cardinals during the winter hot stove league or games in the months of May and June.
A fair-weather fan is indeed what I’ve become, but not in the sense of only following my team when it’s winning.
Actually I’ve come to enjoy the great luxury of not necessarily closely following a team — or even a sport throughout an entire season. It’s not that seasons are too long. I love that I can, if I want, listen to the Cardinals, or even the Cubs, on the radio as I’m driving on an April day. I like when I can, if I want, study box scores any time, for seven months.
But these days, since I don’t work in sports, I don’t have to keep up with the first half of NBA seasons, college basketball games in November and December and college football campaigns from start to finish. By the way, late February and early March remains my favorite time as a casual spectator now, with high school state tournaments by far the highlight.
In recent years, I’ve avoided watching much college football in the regular season — other than big matchups — so I don’t get sick of college ball by the time the bowl games begin. That way, I actually was able to tolerate watching one half of the Notre Dame-vs.-Alabama game. I didn’t go into watching that game, despite the 10-point line for Bama, with the strong opinion that the Irish didn’t stand a chance of having any success in any facets of the game. That way, it took at least 30 minutes of TV time and nine minutes of football time to make me believe that.
Similarly, watching less baseball early in the season makes it possible to watch the All-Star game without utter boredom. Plus, if you haven’t spent much time following baseball during a season, it’s somewhat easier to take in the all-star game without so quickly realizing Tim McCarver-esque announcers are treating the viewers as if they’ve lived their entire lives under a rock and that the viewers have absolutely no baseball knowledge.
Also, if you wait until all-star break to closely follow major league ball, you can start enjoying the sport at a time when all the Cub fans are turning their attention to Bears football and next spring on the diamond. So, if you’re a Sox or Cardinals fan, usually you can have your baseball excitement to yourself around here. Waiting until all-star break also staves off the August blahs.
Same goes for my NBA-watching habits. Except for the Bulls two years ago, when I watched as much of that amazing season by Derrick Rose as I could, I often start watching NBA games after the high school and NCAA tournaments. By then, the NBA season is coming down to the wire, and I’ll still have patience left to watch basketball. I’ve been listening to some Bulls games this year and plan to start watching after the Super Bowl this weekend; I’m excited to hear how good they are right now without Rose and how they’ll be when he returns. They’re worth watching right now, since Boozer and Noah both are good for a double-double in points and rebounds each night. What’ll they be like if Rose is healthy and still quick as lightning?
As for the NCAA, I was assembling tax information at home Saturday and listening to North Carolina-NC State on TV but didn’t watch any of it. It’s amazing how Dick Vitale and so many of those announcers talk about individual players’ talents in terms of whether they’re ready for the NBA. They already are talking about high school kids who’ve committed to UNC or other powerhouses and speculating how long those teenagers will stay in college before seeking fortune in the NBA.
In short, they talk about the players like they’re cuts of meat. Moral of the story: If you have the TV on but don’t watch, it’s almost impossible to follow what’s going on in the college basketball game. If you watch the TV and turn the sound off and listen to something else, it’ll probably be more pleasant.
Following sports is a fantastic pastime, but there are so many other things to occupy time. Hobbies, ranging from home improvement and gardening to golfing and fishing (and writing and photography), help me clear my head and challenge myself in many ways. Likewise, I dedicate much of my time to keeping up with news and issues that affect all of us and am passionate about the mission of informing and occasionally entertaining or even enlightening readers.
I get just as excited about finding a new angle on an old story, reading a great story by one of our reporters or thinking of a better way to explain or illustrate an issue as I would get if the Cardinals won the ’Series or I broke par playing 18 holes. I know the members of our news team have a similar attitude.

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