I slept for 12 hours last night. Clearly, I missed some things. Not the premiere of “Emily Owens, M.D.” or something like that. Sports happened, as it is wont to do on Monday nights.
So yes, I missed Peyton Manning’s comeback win over Philip Rivers and the Chargers. For me the final score indicates a game that had some tension rather than both teams each controlling a half of football.
There was also baseball, though I honestly wasn’t sure there was baseball to miss last night. Talking to Chris about it this morning, he noted that we would never have had such a conversation when we started this site. Times change.
There were a few factors that wiped out my Monday night, the first being I was exhausted. I also can sleep through just about anything. I live near an airport and have never noticed the noise of jet engines and air shows. No rainstorm or alarm—or important phone call—can wake me up.
I’m also pretty good at staying asleep despite long odds. I’ve taken entire phone calls while half-awake, only to go back to bed and awake the next morning to angry text messages and voicemails.
There are, of course, worse ways to spend a Monday night than dreaming. There are also endless ways to do something else while actively aware you’re missing various games and events. There’s a term for it, the fear of missing out (FOMO), which brings phones nervously out of pockets to frantically refresh social media sites to see what you aren’t doing on a Friday night.
This fear of missing out has now expanded into a fear of not knowing. We have to be experts in something or we are nothing. In intelligent conversation, casual is no longer allowed. You can’t casually be interested in the election, or in the NFL Draft. You have to be an expert; and if you don’t know, well, you better learn how to fake it.
Especially in sports, there is no honor in a passing glance. You’re not allowed to have a casual interest in anything, let alone have it show. If you are a hockey fan you must know everything about collective bargaining negotiations, and make sure everyone knows you know. If you watch soccer, you better know your country’s national team inside and out. You can’t pick an EPL team without watching international friendlies and Major League soccer. More is always better, and less is not enough.
Credibility is certainly something worth striving for, but faking it is dangerous and silly. When I worked as a high school sports reporter there was reason to know what I was talking about, and so I took steps necessary to make sure I could write about the things I knew little about. Stories about volleyball and softball got done, and I learned a bit about both as I went. Appearing to know what I’m talking about will be key if I ever decide to get back into journalism full-time.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn all there is to know about a sport if you’d like. By all means. The point is that you can’t force it, and you shouldn’t have to force it. Learning is important, a very nice thing indeed. But learning because we have to, compulsory learning, is just no fun. It’s the kind of stuff that makes kids fake fevers and take the bathroom pass just to wander the halls.
I didn’t watch last night’s sports things. While I was sleeping, the Giants won Game Two and Peyton Manning beat the Chargers. The sun came up this morning and life went on. Sometimes a few hours to recharge is more valuable than knowing how 7-1 or 35-24 happened. The only important thing that passed in those hours was the compulsion that I should know.
I don’t think it will be missed.