Know This Love: Watching the World Cup by not watching


Some people are sports nuts — including some of my SFBay compatriots — while others, like my girlfriend, don’t give a damn about them, save for the more artistic events at the Olympics.

I find myself somewhere in the middle.

I played soccer, baseball, basketball and football growing up, in addition to running track and cross country, yet I never really took to any of the sports beyond middle school.

These days, I casually follow Major League Baseball (meaning I usually know at least how the Twins are doing, which is to say — badly) and follow pro basketball even less (I know when someone wins the championship).  I’ll actually watch a few American football games during the year, and I almost always catch part of the Super Bowl.

And yet without these sports in my life, I would be just fine.  I don’t really care — I just like having things to occupy my mind.

In fact, because I don’t have cable TV at my house and refuse to pay for a streaming service online, I rarely see any professional sports unless they’re on the four major networks (thus why I see more football than futbol).

This brings me to how I’m watching the World Cup:  I’m not really watching it at all.

I’ve surfed the live blogs off and on for most of the matches so far, but I’ve had no way to see them live. In the small town I’m about to move away from, nobody watches soccer, so I couldn’t go to the bars even if I could stand the atmosphere.

Thankfully, there are highlight reels all over the internet, so I got to see Costa Rica’s amazing header that won them their match against Italy.

Perhaps I should be embarrassed to admit it, but I’m sometimes more interested by the numbers in sports — namely, the wins and losses and scores — than I am in the actual play itself. I propose a name for this:  un-watching (of sports).

I am a proud un-watcher.

There’s got to be a lesson in there about reducing our lives to numbers and dissecting the fun out of everything in the process, but I’m not going to try to find it. That might involve some self-inquiry, and I’m too tired for that today.

Just kidding.

I think what it points to is there are infinite points of reality to observe and place our attention on. There are infinite universes of things we can play with.

The question then becomes, what information or input do we want to focus on?

The implications of that question are broad and far beyond the scope of a short column, so I’ll leave them for you to ponder.

But back to the simpler stuff: can I really say I’m a soccer (sorry, football) fan if I’m not watching the matches themselves, merely checking the FIFA website for game updates, reading the coverage from sports bloggers and watching highlights online?

Old-fashioned sports journalists would say yes, while others might disagree.  But I don’t really care, remember?

I’m just choosing one little corner of reality to place my attention on — until I get distracted and start thinking about dinner.


Matthew Stensland-Bos explores consciousness, love, healing, and grounded spirituality in Know This Love, a weekly SFBay opinion column.  You can find him on his website,

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