Yesterday my athletic-watching skills were sorely tested. But I passed with high marks. With astounding skill I managed to go out in public while the Oregon State-Missouri Sun Bowl game was being recorded on my DVR, and return home without knowing who won.
I’ve got considerable practice at this, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some tips with those just coming up in the sports event recording ranks. Of course, I had to hone my talent in the school of VCR hard knocks.
When I used to play doubles at the Salem Tennis and Swim Club, I can’t tell you how many times our foursome would leave the court just as I’d hear one of the guys who were taking the next time slot loudly say, “Man, what a game! I can’t believe the Ducks pulled it out in the last ten seconds”
Thanks a lot, guy, I’d think. There goes my evening athletic event television watching plan, unless I want to confirm what I already know has happened.
Being older and slightly wiser now, I carefully timed my Sun Bowl day. Got the DVR (digital video recorder) programmed with an hour added to the scheduled end for possible overtime. Watched most of the first half, minus the absurdly missing CBS Special Report six minutes.
I needed to pick up our Highlander that had been serviced at Capitol Toyota. I had Laurel take me at halftime. Car dealerships are a danger zone for someone with a recorded yet not seen (RYNS) game waiting at home. The service area waiting room usually has a TV on, and bored salesmen with nothing much to do might be hanging around talking sports.
But I got out of there with no problem. My next three stops also had me flowing in the game-talk free zone.
So I was four for four and feeling on a roll when I walked into our independent pharmacy to pick up a prescription. Right away my RYNS antennae perked up. A radio was on. Tuned to the Sun Bowl. The pharmacist was listening to it. I tried to take charge of the situation.
I told the pharmacist’s assistant, “Don’t tell me the score! Don’t say anything about the game! I’m recording it.” Offense is better than defense. Also, constant muttering is better than silence, because that way intelligible speech from the radio has less of a chance of penetrating the brain.
I kept up meaningless chatter through the VISA validation process. But then I remembered that I needed to ask the pharmacist a question. My guard was down for a moment. The assistant must have sensed the opening. Or maybe he’d forgotten my earlier admonition.
“It’s 31-38 in the fourth…”
“No! Stop!” I told him. “Don’t tell me who’s ahead!” Ah, back in control.
Somehow I managed to lean over the counter and talk with the pharmacist without hearing more about the score than I already had. Focus, focus, I kept telling myself. Zero in on what he and you are saying. Ignore the announcers.
It worked. I was feeling pretty confident now. I figured that all my errands would have carried me through the second half. Now I headed to the Courthouse Athletic Club, my last stop of the day, where I anticipated all the televisions would be tuned to the next bowl game.
I anticipated wrong. My worst nightmare was scarily apparent as soon as I checked in at the front desk: a crowd was clustered around a big screen TV, where I could see the Oregon State and Missouri uniform colors.
My mind raced. Shit! The game is still going on! I’m screwed. For the very last place you want to be, the absolute last, when you’re planning to watch a game at home that you’re recording but which isn’t over yet, is an athletic club.
Televisions abound. Sports, not surprisingly, is a big part of what club members and staff talk about. This was going to take every bit of RYNS skill that I possessed if I was going to get through the next hour without knowing who won.
I briskly walked into the men’s locker room and looked for the most deserted changing area. I started humming while I put my workout clothes on. Blot-out noise. Then, my first serious challenge: a distant murmur of excited Sun Bowl talk.
It was coming closer. I darted into a restroom stall, sat on the toilet, and put fingers in my ears. And also, hummed. That’s acceptable behavior in a men’s locker room toilet, I figured. When the bowl conversation faded away, I crept out of the stall.
And into the aerobic room. Carefully. A quick glance told me, not good.
Two of the six televisions were tuned to the Sun Bowl. Plus, a notoriously expressively verbal guy was on a treadmill. I knew that he liked to loudly comment, to no one in particular, on games he was watching. I wasn’t going to be able to stairmaster for 35 minutes in that room without being taken to the know-the-score cleaners.
So I audibled myself. Changed my usual workout pattern on the fly. Turned around and headed for the machine weight room. No TVs there. A lot safer. I encountered Leo, an 80-something workout buddy who I like to talk progressive politics with.
“Nothing about the game, Leo, nothing. I’m recording it.” I said this loudly enough to carry through the room. Preventive hear-the-score medicine in case anybody else was inclined to start chatting about the final minutes of the Sun Bowl.
“I’m not interested in it at all, Brian. No worries.” Whew. I began to think I could get through this after all. But right at the end of my weight room workout, as I was finishing up some yoga stretches, I could hear Leo talking to a guy who was interested in the game. I couldn’t help but hear, “they pulled it out in the last few seconds.”
That was when I started to hum again. Loudly. And focused on my shoulder stand. Until Leo’s conversation ended.
Now I figured it was safe to go back into the aerobics room. Peeking around the corner, I was relieved to see than none of the TVs were showing the Sun Bowl. I'd made it. Or so I thought.
I hadn’t taken into account how many people were wearing OSU t-shirts and sweatshirts. And how they were congregating in excited groups. Celebrating or mourning? I tried my best not to get any clues. Not even if the lithe female body wearing the OSU top was well worth cluing in on.
The strain was starting to get to me. I was using a lot of psychic energy staring at the least likely television to show the final score. But in this RYNS game you can never relax. “Expect the unexpected” is the only rule.
Peripheral vision—all important. I caught a flash of “KOIN News Update” on the adjoining screen. Avert eyes, avert eyes! I kept my head down until the danger passed.
Soon after I was in my car, driving home. With the radio off, naturally. Nestled on our couch, mostly ignorant of the outcome, I hugely enjoyed watching the game. I say “mostly” because I had a feeling that OSU was the winner.
But I’d done a good enough job of blotting out televisions, radios, conversations, and body language to not be sure. And all that’s needed to enjoy a recorded game is not being absolutely certain of the outcome.
This should, in fact, be a guaranteed right. A friend just told me about a voice that came over a Safeway store loudspeaker after the Sun Bowl ended, saying “Congratulations to the Beavers, who just won 39-38.”
He said that a woman who’d recorded the game marched up to the manager and complained. Good for her. This was a slight of justice. Or rather, it should have been. And if the bill I hope to have introduced in the Oregon legislature passes, one day it will be.
I’m envisioning a statute along these lines. People who are recording a game in progress, or one that has been over for less than an hour, would wear a brightly colored vest similar to those used by road construction flaggers (color open to negotiation; if the Democrats support my bill, I’m willing to make the vests blue).
Anyone watching or listening to an athletic event in a public place would be required to turn the television or radio off while the RYNS vest-wearer is within eye- or ear-shot. Conversations about the score also would be prohibited. Failure to do this would result in a substantial fine. I’m thinking at least $100. More if the game is significant.
Ideally, stores would need to have an employee stationed near every entrance while a sporting event featuring an Oregon major college team is being played (I’m open to making the law read “college or professional,” but personally I don’t give a rip about the Blazers).
If the employee spots a RYNS vest wearer, an announcement would be made over the store’s public address system: “All game viewing, listening, or talk must cease now.” To some this might seem a bit Orwellian, but what’s the good of government if it can’t protect our right to watch a recorded game without knowing the final score?
If the Oregon legislature wants to call it “Brian’s Law,” I won’t object. Anything to help my fellow RYNSians.