The Harbinger Online

Watching Sports for Dummies

A few weeks ago, I watched a KU basketball game with a friend of mine and I’m convinced I would have rather watched the game with a screaming chimp. I love the girl, but it took every ounce of me not to tell her off while she yelled at the TV when it was utterly unnecessary. This traumatic game-watching experience lead me to an epiphany: I think there is in fact, a “correct” way to watch the game, and few people actually know how to do it. It’s not hard, and it comes in three points: Preparation, paying close attention to the game, and meditating about the game afterward. Follow these steps, and soon you’ll realize how great sports actually are.


Prepping for the game is important. Without it, you won’t be able to fully comprehend what is happening. You should prepare to watch a game like you would for a chemistry quiz: you don’t need to know every detail, you just need to know enough to get by.

Questions are key. What are each team’s strengths or weaknesses? If you’re the coach, where do you attack the opposing team? What will be the deciding factor? Who will win? And most importantly, why? Once you formulate your opinion, it’s gametime.

The Game Itself:

Now you’re to the game. If you are with a group of friends, you may want to set some ground rules. Talking is only allowed on dead-balls and commercials. No knocking over drinks in celebration or unearthing the coffee table out of damnation because the referees suck. You know, the basic guidelines, so there are no distractions – ensuring you won’t miss a big play.

Next, you need to understand the circumstances and when to pay close attention. In most sports, (baseball, basketball, football, hockey) the first possession, quarter or inning is huge. The team that sets the tone and comes out and draws first blood has the advantage right off the bat. There are certain moments throughout the game that you have to question. Why did the coach chose that play? Why did the point guard pass up the three pointer? Who will be the game changer in the game? You always need to pay attention to the situation of the game. If not, you end up looking like a fool and asking “What happened?” 4,000 times instead of debating the last call with the ref.

For instance, in the KU-Michigan game I was watching with my friend, it was coming down to the last possessions in the second half. Practically in the fetal position hiding from it all, I couldn’t block out her screaming, “SHOOT A THREE TYREL! SHOOT A THREE!! UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Why isn’t he SHOOTING?!?!” Well, let’s see. One, he’s at fricken’ half-court. Two, there was under a minute in the game and KU was leading; they didn’t need a three. They needed to do exactly what they were doing, which was playing keep away from Michigan. I’m sure there is a reason why you are watching these players on TV. They may be okay at the sport the play. I’d trust them.

The Meditation Process:

The game ends and you are most likely either distraught and playing the “How did we lose?” game and recapping “the big possession” that you didn’t win. Otherwise, you’re looking like Richard Simmons after a workout and couldn’t be more pleased with life.

Now, reflecting on what just happened in the game is important to the viewing experience. You don’t go see a movie like “Inception” or “Black Swan” and walk out of the theatre thinking about popcorn and gummy-bears; you think about the movie. In the sports world, you should try and regurgitate what just happened and answer the questions you posed originally. Who won? Why did they win? What was the deciding factor?

Following these steps, asking these questions and understanding the game as it goes along will provide a sports watching experience like you’ve never had before.

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Chris Heady is a senior and the Co-Head Copy Editor on the print Harbinger. He enjoys movie soundtracks and a good pen. Read Full »

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