Die-hard fan technique for watching a tape-delayed game

I’m going to be out of town for next Saturday’s Cal game.  A very important one versus Tennessee.  Seeing as how I’ve grown to be somewhat of an expert on avoiding learning about the game when I have to Tivo it and watch it later, I give you the top 5 rules to avoiding the “spoiler”:

  1. DO NOT wear any team apparel.  This is BY FAR the most important rule.  In fact, you should even avoid the team colors in any form whether or not the team logo is on it.  See, the overall key, as you’ll see from the rest of the list, is to not do anything to bring attention to yourself and your current plight.  Some think that making an announcement about not giving away the score is a better strategy.  I can tell you with assurance that those people are idiots.  Making an announcement is like putting melting bucket of ice-cream in front of a two-year old 15 minutes before you plan to take him to Church.  It’s only going to end up messy.  At best you’ll only get “conceptual” updates like “Ken, you may not want to watch that game when you get home.”  At worst, you’ll end up having the final score repeated to you so many times you’ll feel like an old punching bag with a sign saying “hit me” in a boys locker room.  So to recap team apparel = billboard saying “please ruin my day”.
  2. Do not mention the game to anyone.  You must pretend it doesn’t exist.  This is by far a more difficult task.  One can easily remember not to pack anything with the team logo on it.  It’s much harder not to glance at one’s watch and think, “hey, the game just started.”  And don’t be fooled, psychic ability exists and ruining games is one of the most prevalent forms of said ability.  You must completely block it from your mind.  Don’t even think about thinking about thinking about thinking about the game.  Do whatever it takes.  Don’t wear a watch, put yourself in excruciating pain (just no dental work, those bums always want to chat while they have you in their chair), do whatever it takes not to think about the game.
  3. Do you best to make sure that from kickoff time until you’re able to get to your recorded game, you stay away from people with access to the score.  This can be difficult particularly considering the reason that you aren’t either at the game or watching it live is usually something important like a wedding where you don’t have as much control over the venue as you’d like.  But within your ability you need to avoid people who might know.  This means things like not going into the bar area at the reception where sports news might be on.  In general this is a great time to get bonus points with your significant other by hanging around her friends (who are statistically far more likely not to know that the game of football exists much less what the score of your particular game might be).  However, a note of caution with that strategy: Your mind might wander and you’ll catch yourself being caught by the psychic in item #2.
  4. Turn off/avoid all forms of communication.  This is more broad than you might think.  The obvious one is your cell phone.  But you also must consider one-way communication such as the radio and television (ANY channel).  Trust me, it’ll be just your luck that while watching the home shopping network they’ll show a porcelain bear and the idiot announcer will somehow make reference to the big upset at the game earlier in the day.  Radio, even music (in fact ESPECIALLY) music stations, can be just as dangerous as TV.  Many a fan franticly driving his car home has been caught by the “DJ fumble”.  If you’re a car music listener, bring CDs.  Additionally, DO NOT check your messages of any form.  No e-mail, no answering machines, no faxes, no whatever.  You’d be amazed how many messages you’ll get: “Hey Ken, what a comeback, eh?  Too bad they fell just short.”  The answering machine can be particularly tempting.  It might be important, right?  Well, you’d better tell that to your crushed pinky toe that you kept smashing to keep your mind off the game.  Have your wife check the messages while you go to a bathroom out of ear shot of the machine if necessary.
  5. Avoid the neighbors.  This got elevated up into the top 5 after my last letdown last season.  I was nearly home-free as we were loading up the boys in the car at my Mom’s place when her next door neighbor, who just happened to know I was a season ticket holder, nailed me with the casual, “Boy, tough game huh?”.  See, the problem is that neighbors need to chit-chat.  What better way to do that than to bring up the game?  He knows you watch the games.  So, the key here is to be in and out as quick as one can be.  Operating behind a closed garage door can definitely help.  But when that kind of planning isn’t in the game-plan, just imagine yourself as a cross between bulldozer and a cheetah.  People need to be thinking about getting out of your way with the power and speed you’re operating at.  This has the added bonus of getting people out of chit-chat mode and into run for cover mode.  You don’t hear about the game and the neighborhood is a safer place: it’s a win-win.

OK, that’s the top 5.  To get more detailed tips, well, you’ll have to signup for my masters degree program on the subject.  As a pre-requisite, make sure you read Steward Mandel’s article on how to watch multiple games at once on one TV.  The money quote:

I’m not saying this method is fool-proof, that you won’t miss some big plays here or there (though hopefully you’ll at least switch in time for the replay), but if you can manage to get in the zone, the one where you find yourself flicking from a 30-yard pass in one game to a third-down sack in another to a long punt return in another, it’s truly an indescribable feeling.

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