By Joe Rector

As Big Orange fans know, the past football season has been one filled with disappointment. We fans expected much better results from the team, even though some “cream puff” teams were replaced with an all-SEC schedule of teams. The men’s basketball team has hit a slump for a couple of games and looked much different from the one that squashed early opponents. No doubt, Coach Barnes will have the problem resolved shortly, but right now, the balm that could have soothed Vol fans after football failures isn’t working.

Sports fans approach games, whether they are youth-league contests or professional rivalries, with anticipation and an emotional fervor that falls well outside what is healthy. For some reason, we identify with teams and agonize with their losses of games and players. Too many times I’ve screamed at the television set as my favorite teams make mistakes, fall behind, and lose games. I fret over recruiting classes and keeping young folks true to their words. A loss of a game or a recruit has plunged me into a funk for several days.

I know that sports are nothing more than games that teams play. I realize that their goals are to entertain fans enough so that they want to buy tickets to games and purchase merchandise sporting teams’ logos. I also acknowledge that no game’s outcome in any way will bring about change in any global problem. Still, a weekend of games certainly affects the moods of millions of folks.

For those reasons, I’m seriously considering taking a holiday from sports. I no longer will schedule my weekends to view a ball game. Oh, I might check in on the score of a favorite team, but I’m not willing to invest any more three-hours or more blocks of time to sit on the couch and watch a game. My dear wife will be excited that we can leave the house and go on some day trips that hadn’t before been possible.

One benefit of this attempt will be an improvement in my overall attitude. I might just turn out to be a nicer person. Sadie, our dog, will be glad that I no longer snap at her when she has to go outside just as a third down and goal arises or the outcome of the game is being determined.

Another positive to passing on games is that I can spend more time outside. Our yard always demands attention. The mowing and weed eating can take several hours. Amy can always find new places to plant new flowers or reset existing ones. In the fall, leaves are knee-deep every day, and shrubs need pruning. Winter is the best time to burn the piles of limbs and clippings. I’ll be able to keep up with those tasks if I turn off games.

I’m not sure how long I can hold out. Maybe my face will be in front of the television within a few days. The effects of withdrawal from sports might be too severe for me to stand. On the other hand, I might just find out how little I really need to watch games that drive me nuts and drive my blood pressure toward stroke territory. I’ve given one team too long to turn the corner. I just don’t have the energy to go through another head coaching hire and to wait for that philosophy to develop a competitive team.

Yes, I want my favorite team to win, and I hope they once again become a force with which to deal before I die. I’ll be back to watch them, but as a different person. I’ll smile when they win and shrug my shoulders when they don’t. Giving up a dependence on athletes and contests is healthier, both physically and mentally. Let’s see how it goes.