Over a year ago, maybe two years now, I was introduced to UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship). I was surprised by how much I adore watching two people pummel each other. I have to say I love almost everything about it. I love the pageantry, the sportsmanship, the athleticism and skill of the fighters. I would like to say I could do without the blood, but I won’t. When the fights stopped due to concerns over spreading the virus, I was sad but understood the reason for the halt in the schedule. However, I was over the moon when the fights recently resumed. As I said to a few of my fight viewing friends, I was so starved for any form of sports viewing, I would have settled for the fighters to just stand in the middle of the ring and slap each other back and fourth for three to five rounds.
My daughter is not a fan but for some reason, most likely boredom, she decided to watch for a bit with me last weekend. She had many questions and I am not an expert by any means. I did my best. She questioned me about the weight classes and how a person can win and lose. She was perplexed about the grappling and was trying to find the words to describe what she was seeing. I offered that perhaps what she was seeing was angry hugging. She seemed to be pleased with this description.
My need to see some sort of organized sports is deep and this yearning is something I didn’t even realize. I grew up in Central Pennsylvania, just 10 miles from University Park, Penn State’s main campus. I believe it is mandatory all locals must love the Nittany Lions. I did, and still do. One of my favorite childhood memories, on game day was laying in the middle of my gram’s yard, in Houserville and hearing the muffled announcers from Beaver Stadium. On an occasion, I was able to go to a “Blue and White” game and be a spectator at one or two of the football games throughout Penn State’s normal season. It was heaven. Fall in Pennsylvania was my favorite season. Attending undergraduate studies at Penn State and spending time in the stadium’s student section will always be a fond memory of mine.
I moved away several years ago and still try to watch as many games as I can, but now living in Oregon I tend to keep track of the Ducks too. My first love will always be college football. However, I do love NFL and still follow all of my East Coast teams. Even when I don’t care about who is playing, I always seem to have a game on just for background noise and the comforting effects. When football season ends, I get a little depressed. I watch a little hockey and with the Blazers being super popular here, I try to muster up the same enthusiasm. The only team sport I cannot watch at all is baseball, cause I don’t have the patience or the time. However, since watching “Brockmire” I might give it another chance.
With the pandemic and most sports coming to a halt. Out of desperation, I have found myself sitting in front of the TV watching old Stanley Cup game play offs, golf and other games the networks have been so kind to re-broadcast. Having all of this on my TV makes things seem a little bit normal. My daughter thinks I’m crazy and I can see her concern and confusion when she walks into my room asking who is screaming, when I was watching an old tennis match too loudly. I typically never watch Tennis. It’s not the first and most likely not the last time my daughter has questioned my mental health status. I can only hope that I provide a little comic relief to distract from all the despair she is absorbing. The other alternative is that I will provide her with a long list of issues to work through in therapy when she feels she is ready. You are welcome, Ella.
Presently, I find I am watching normal and mundane occurrences much like sporting events, trying to equate points to various activities. Whether it be heated arguments between differing points of views on local news stations or watching squirrels fight to defend their territorial boundaries, as they taunt my dogs and sometimes me. I have my own point system going on in my head and I typically declare one side as the champion of the perceived battle. I believe most times I’m somewhat satisfied with the winner.
The effect of quarantine on my brain has done some interesting things to my thought process and I being to wonder. Would I participate in the viewing of events similar to The Hunger Games or The Purge, if they would come to be? Gosh, I hope not, but I almost can see a society where we have some type of organized sports teams who battle it our for scarce resources like toilet paper or a coveted meat product. A trophy is no longer necessary. I believe we are getting closer to a society where poverty, oppression and squalor might be played out in dreadful displays of competition. My want to read any more stories of this type of genre is slowly dissipating. However, my need to be a spectator has not gone away in the least and this is the scary part.
I completely understand this is first world problem of want vs need. But I need to see athletes battle it out, and soon on possible on a regular basis. I would even watch Tennis on a more consistent basis if all the players agree to scream more and louder as they smash the ball back and forth. I want to see bone crushing hits, played by men in really tight uniforms. The more aggressive the better. I do acknowledge that I have no problems with objectifying men and I might have underlying anger issues requiring therapy. I’ll be sure to get a referral from Ella’s future therapist, and maybe I will be enabled to explore my endless need to shove my mind full of brutal competition in order to quiet my own restlessness. Until then and until the other sports return, I will endure lots of angry hugs when watching UFC fights and perhaps If I am lucky enough maybe I’ll even give a few.