I love to tape TV shows, or in today’s parlance, record TV shows. There was a time not that long ago when I owned five televisions with VCRs just to keep up with all the shows I wanted to watch. This was in the days of analog, and three of those TVs had rabbit ears but worked perfectly well. I carefully orchestrated my recording — network shows on the rabbit-ear TVs, cable shows on the others.
Then, of course, analog went away, and so did the rabbit-ear TVs. Cable boxes began to include DVRs and I was able to stop buying blank tapes and making lists on little slips of paper and running around the house every weekend, programming five different televisions.
And yet, for all the recording I did — and all the recording I still do — I cannot bring myself to consistently record and watch entire sporting events on my DVRs.
Even when Kansas was playing in the 2008 Final Four, I didn’t record either game. I hadn’t recorded the rest of the tournament, so recording the Final Four would have been a jinx. I have since watched those games on DVD — first the beat-down of North Carolina, then fast forward to Mario Chalmers’s three-pointer to beat Memphis; good times.
I don’t know why, for me, watching recorded sports is a non-starter. It certainly would be a convenience, being able to watch a game at any time, and in much less time. You can reduce a 31 / 2-hour NFL game to about an hour of action, if you skip commercials and halftime and replay delays. A nimble thumb could turn some baseball games into 90 minutes. Heck, Jordan Zimmermann is an incredibly fast pitcher; you could get through one of his games in about a half-hour.
It’s worse if I know the outcome in advance; that pretty much kills it for me. If the game was decided on some big play, or there was a huge brawl or a bad call, I might zip through to find that, but I wouldn’t sit through the entire thing.
Even if I don’t know who won, there’s just something about watching something that I know isn’t live that bugs me. Which makes no sense, of course, because let’s face it, none of the TV shows I record and watch is live.
Well, there are exceptions, I guess. The shows I will record on my DVR and watch later are the Academy Awards and the Emmys. I can’t bear to sit through the dance numbers (the equivalent of the Super Bowl halftime show?) and many of the speeches. (Rule of thumb: Watch the Brits, skip the rest.) I was able to watch last year’s entire Oscars telecast in 35 minutes, although in fairness I fast-forwarded through every appearance by hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco. I hope they weren’t funny.
So what’s with this sports hang-up? I wish I knew. As I get older and increasingly dependent on drugs and machines to sleep, I could really use a third DVR, just for games whose endings I have no hope of seeing live. (These include any World Series game, any NBA Finals and “Monday Night Football” games not involving the Redskins. For those, I use drugs and machines to stay awake.)
But that’s not a long-term solution. As long as my job requires me to be a very early riser, I need to shake the notion that somehow sports on the DVR is different from, say, “Parks and Recreation” on the DVR. Calling the cable company for that third box will be easy; getting over my mental block is the issue. Suggestions welcome.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/hamilton.