Back in 2017, I decided to give up watching NFL games for various reasons. Chief among them was that I didn’t like how the NFL was treating Colin Kaepernick in the wake of his nonviolent protests against police brutality and the (what appeared to me to be clear) collusion among team owners to keep him out of the league. Similarly, I didn’t like how the NFL continually committed itself to acting as if it gave any fucks about the players in the midst of information on CTE. In short, I just don’t think the NFL cares about the people actually generating the money. The NFL doesn’t care about black people.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my team is also the Washington Redskins—who suck and will continue to suck ALONG with their racist name—which has made it a little bit easier to gracefully bow out considering my other very real and valid issues.
I am now going into my third season without watching the NFL. I can’t say that I’m actively boycotting at this point, but taking that time off has created a new world where I just don’t need the NFL. In the time since making the decision to stop watching, I’ve noticed a pretty stark change in the way that I engage with sports, in general; it turns out, disengaging from the NFL changed a lot of my routines over the past few years. For instance? For instance.
1. My Sundays aren’t devoted to football anymore.
I used to spend all Sunday watching the NFL. Of course, I specifically watched my own team’s games, but I’d just watch whatever games were on all day long. Now, Sundays are family days like a mug, for better or worse. I only say for worse because last Sunday I was forced to go to Chuck E. Cheese because of a promise I didn’t make to one of my kids (my wife made it). There’s an article about Chuck E. Cheese, poverty pimping and capitalism waiting to be written, by the way.
2. I no longer watch SportsCenter.
My former morning routines almost always included ESPN. Now? I rarely, if ever, watch SportsCenter. In fact, I rarely turn my television to ESPN except during NBA season.
3. This has had an impact on the way I watch college football.
I’m a fan of the University of Alabama football, which is usually fun for me because they’re always in the hunt for a national championship. But I’ve noticed that since I’m not really watching the NFL as much, I’ve stopped watching college football as much. I make time for big SEC games for personal reasons—one of my best friends went to Louisiana State, so the LSU vs. Alabama game is one we usually do as a group—but until bowl season, I’m usually doing other things with my Saturdays.
4. Because I don’t really watch SportsCenter, I have no idea what’s happening with other sports.
I live in Washington, D.C., and our Major League Baseball team, the Nationals, qualified for the Wild Card and then won the Wild Card playoff against the Milwaukee Brewers based on a super wild eighth inning last night. Until last week, I didn’t even KNOW we were in the hunt for the playoffs. I’m not a big baseball fan, but living in D.C., you tend to know what’s happening with the Nationals. Not I. I find out more about the local teams via text messages with the homies than I do traditional news outlets.
I only knew the Washington Capitals (our hockey team) were going to win because the homies started texting about what would be an influx of white people downtown at the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs. I have managed to keep up with Serena though. Also, the Washington Mystics, our WNBA team, whose home court is less than a 10-minute WALK from my house, are playing for the championship and I just found this out via text message last week. Apparently getting national news and only local news updates is terrible for sports coverage.
5. The NBA is the only league I actively follow.
Now that football is out and since it’s pretty much affected how I keep up with roughly every other sport, it turns out that the NBA is unaffected. I now pretty much only keep up with the NBA through the NBA site and app and talking to the homies and, oddly enough, fashion sites. Now that James Harden, Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker are all on the same team, fashion in Houston is going to be an absolute mess next season and I’m here for it. At least the shoe game will be proper.