When Refreshing Becomes Exhausting

If you’re like me, and I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you are, you’re all too often stuck at work when there’s soccer on, and you desperately want to see it. World Cup, Euro, Champions League, non-league semi-pro Welsh seniors’ tournament – whatever floats your boat, it’s bound to come on TV in Canada between the hours of nine and five. But what to do? You count the sick days you’ve already taken this month, you briefly consider quitting, you concoct and abandon a half-baked story involving a sick grandmother that might get you out of the office and into the presence of a TV when the game starts. But, in the end, you resort to that fickle and frustrating mistress: the live updates blog.

The main problem with watching soccer on an updating blog is that is denies you a sense the flow of the game, the pace of the play and the subtle build-up towards goal are utterly lost, and one is left frantically clicking “refresh” every five seconds. You don’t know where the ball is, what end the play is in, whether injury time has run out or not, and the whole experience is really all too reminiscent of the last time you actually played soccer yourself. Then, when something actually does happen, it’s completely unannounced, and you burt out an expletive of fury or a yelp of triumph, both of which have a disquieting effect on the office environment.

Granted, websites are steadily improving their live play-by-play of soccer matches. Yahoo’s Eurosport self-refreshes, and has a comforting countdown to the next refresh, the effect of which is similar to living in a perpetual New Years Eve where you’re not sure if the world will end at midnight. Moreover, it makes you want to put a fist through the screen when it’s tied in the 85th minute of a Big Cup quarterfinal, and the countdown reaches zero and starts over with no update on the action.

Really, for all their “watch the game live,” that’s not what you’re doing, is it? You’re reading the game, which is hardly the same as it allows you’re over-stressed imagination to worm its way into the mix. Every ball struck wide by the bad guys becomes a cannon that grazed the post, while attempts by your team are all weak rollers into the keeper’s hands or laughable moonshots better suited to a rugby match.

But I, for one, put up with it, because faced with two legs of a Champions League quarterfinal and being able to take only one afternoon off, I’m happy to suffer through carpal tunnel in my refreshing finger through the first leg if it means I can wedge myself in at Scallywags to watch the second.

But for me, the problem extends beyond the office: I don’t have a TV. Now, I’m not the guy who doesn’t have a TV so he can lord it over others and make ridiculous claims about how much richer his life is. I’m owed a TV as a part of my lease, and although it’s been several months and I’m still streaming past episodes of House off the internet, I can’t get a straight answer from Faceless Rental Corporation about when my TV will show up. Don’t they know the playoffs are about to start?!

The biggest problem is that not having a TV means I can’t watch my beloved Canadiens in the comfort of my own home. And, again, I’m forced to turn to my computer. I’d be alright with watching the games on Sopcast, or some similar live streaming video website, but, like the Maple Leafs, my laptop can’t handle the pressure of playing the whole game, and generally seizes up towards the middle.

So I turn to the refuge of snow-bound Yukonites and the elderly: the radio. Listening to hockey on the radio is, while infinitely less stressful than watching soccer on a blog, highly problematic. I still can’t get a good picture of where the puck is, so I assume that at any given moment it’s rifling towards an empty Habs net. Also, the announcers tend to drift into their laundry list of scripted promos taking up much of the period saying things like “Well, Dave I think that might have just been the T&L St. Jean’s Harware and Sundries Turning Point of the Game.” “I agree, Bob. It was as exciting as a 2 for 1 special at Mario Mario’s pizza at any one of their four locations in the Greater Montreal area.” It’s enough to make you old before your time.

Also, with nothing to look at, my mind wanders – I pick up a book, I doodle, I make sock puppets – and I generally forget about the progress of the game. Then, when someone scores, I’m jolted back into the game, my book goes flying and I spill all over myself. When the action is intense, I have no idea what to do with myself, and no idea where to look. I’m pretty sure that the people who live in the apartment across the alley from mine have spent several silent and worrying minutes watching their neighbour tearing at his hair as he screams “Go! Go! Go!” into the fireplace.

Alas, while I remain too stubborn to buy a TV for myself, and too employed to spend any given Wednesday afternoon at Scallywags with my Arsenal jersey on, I guess I’ll just have to be happy following sports however I can. For the moment, I have a strongly worded e-mail to write.

“Dear Faceless Rental Corporation…”

One Response to “When Refreshing Becomes Exhausting”

  1. […] most others in our demographic, we’re bad at remembering birthdays… even our own. The first-ever post at Some Canadian Guys Writing About Soccer hit the Internet on June 6, 2008 — meaning that […]

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