Turns out however, there is an exception.
The Olympics. Every four years, for two weeks at a time, I will watch pretty much anything Olympics-related.
Diving? I love it. Swimming? It’s the national sport. Pole vault? Several hours of focussed viewing. Rowing? I name-drop the son of a work colleague from a decade earlier who is now in the team. Hockey? This becomes a family obsession. Soccer? Discussed at length around the water-cooler at work. Cycling? I might even drag out my bike for a ride. And how did I ever live without gymnastics and equestrian broadcasts?
So what is it about the Olympics that makes it such compelling viewing (despite the abysmal local television coverage)?
I think it is a combination of things….
1. It is a short-term committment. My attention span can last two weeks, but not much longer.
2. Pardon the pun, but I am starting on an even playing field. My knowledge of these sports is approximately the same as everyone else’s so I can hold my own in conversations. Unlike football, tennis or cricket where almost everyone else in the world knows more than me.
3. The variety of sport is sufficient to stave off boredom. Pole vault or sprint might not hold my attention for long, but a couple of hours….fascinating!
4. It feels like I am participating with the rest of the world. It is interesting to see people from all over the world competing, their team uniforms, the spectators, the flags and banners. It is a world event, and in a very small way, I am part of it sitting in the comfort of my living room, watching the flickering light of the TV. And part of team Australia. Without the hassle of doing any actual exercise.
So for a couple of weeks I become a sports fanatic, completely out of character.
But don’t be fooled. In a weeks time, I will be back to my normal level of disinterest.