There was a reason you spent all that money on a flat-screen television. In addition, you bought those foundation-rumbling speakers and the amplifier that could power a Boeing passenger jet. Please, lest we forget the time and effort you put into that arm chair that took six long years to break in? I think not!
The plain fact is: you like your sports. Perhaps “like” is too ambiguous a term. Let’s try “crave.” Whether a hockey nut, a basketball junkie, a football fanatic or a bowling pinhead (heaven help you), there is a chromosome in all of us that reacts like Pavlov’s dog six minutes before pre-game.
Somewhere deep inside, a chemical reaction occurs and we begin uncontrollably searching for corn nuts, Chee-tos and cold beer. While organizing the beer/munchies run, you call your buddies to inform them that it’s their turn to bring the burgers and buns. The volume is adjusted (making sure those rear surround speakers kick in the crowd noise just right), and the shades are drawn to alleviate the chance of glare. Nearing the end of the preparation period, and getting closer to the adrenaline rush of the first offensive push of the game, it happens. You hear that voice you fell so head-over-heels for turn into fingernails on a chalkboard: “Honey, could you please do me a favor?”
At that moment, you know how it feels to be Charlie Brown as Lucy pulls the football away!
Frustrated questions being darting through your brain: Is it too much to ask to have bonding time with my television? How does she know EVERY time you get this comfortable? What college class taught her this? Who was the idiot who first took the caffeine out of coffee?
When it comes down to it, all these questions are busy-work. As the Olympics approach, there is one key question you need to contemplate well in advance of any such incident: “How do you balance together-time and sports-time?”
This is a critical question, and one that I’ve seen create disturbances of epic proportions when couples become roommates without first dealing with it. The fact is that until you live with someone, the rules are fairly simple: If you are foolish enough to make plans with your girlfriend on Super Bowl Sunday, there is no out without a fight. In addition, you will be hearing about it in every “debate” you have for the next twelve years. So there is really only one rule you need to watch if you don’t live together: “choose your together time at your own risk.”
If you live with someone, all bets are off, and there are three possible outcomes when you want your sports time:
Situation 1 – She likes sports as much as you, and understands “sports time.” (Marry this woman!)
In this situation, the worst case scenario would be a battle over the remote. Prior negotiations between you, your friends, her and the local sports bar should alleviate any potential relationship scars that might occur from a tennis – football conflict. With a woman of this disposition, it doesn’t matter where you are or where she is. There is a common understanding about what happens at sports time. With any luck you have a common interest in the same sports and teams and you have been paid a great deal of money to be on Ripley’s Believe it or Not.
Situation 2 – You have discussed the whole thing well before the incident, and you get your sports time.
This can happen through proper preparation and strategic negotiations. Straight-forward, long talks about your expectations and hers are always necessary when it comes to decisions that impact each other’s time. You want her to allow you to be in your “happy place” for three hours. This is a big step in a relationship when you are living together. Granted, there will inevitably be a give and take agreement. You might have to endure dinner with her parents every so often, and maybe you’ll have to take a trip to the opera or a craft show. Regardless, if you live up to your end of the bargain, your sports time will be your sports time.
Situation 3 – Murphy’s Law: All bets are off.
You can have discussions, debates, negotiations and even written agreements, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. There are going to be times where you are sitting in the chair, beer in hand, and you glance to the open doorway to see “the look.” This is when, regardless of how loud the television is, there is a moment when your eyes meet and time and space slow to almost a stop. She needs you for something.
I’d really like to say there is a way out of this. I’d like to tell you that the written contract you have will hold up in court, but the truth of the matter is that no judge in their right mind will rule in your favor. You have to simply be prepared to deal with the possibility. No amount of advance discussion or mutual understanding can prevent this from happening. All the rules were meant to be broken, and a woman’s emotional mood negates all previous arrangements. And who knows? When it comes down to it, there may be life beyond ESPN.