I watch live tennis on television most of the year, keeping The Tennis Channel’s weekly tournament telecast on my office TV with the sound muted, only tuning in on big points. But the ATP Tour ends it’s season in mid-November each year. The off season is only six weeks, so during the hiatus, I record the final couple of events on my DVR, and savor the matches one at a time at my own pace. The final tournament final was to be played last Sunday inLondon. Happily, there were 24 two hour or more “episodes” of the event recorded on my DVR. It was my personal time-shifting pleasure.
As I headed home from playing tennis Sunday, I ran into a neighbor who is also a tennis enthusiast with whom I often discuss the tour results. As we approached each other, I held up my hand and said “please say nothing about the Tour Masters; I have only begun to watch the event and I have it recorded”. Unthinkingly, she responded that her news “wouldn’t matter, because Federer had just defaulted the final.” To which I said, “gee, thanks for wiping out half the tournament for me”. She thought for a moment and then, realizing her error, apologized profusely, but the damage was done. A known fact cannot be selectively forgotten.
Contemplating the incident later, it seemed to me that all of us place differing values on immediacy, which is defined by Webster’s as “the quality that makes something seem important or interesting because it is or seems to be happening now!” It is clear that even in the digital age, live performances are highly valued in music and theater, even though we know that the studio music performances are likely to be cut and edited for perfection not often to be found in a live concert. Broadway performance tickets easily cost ten times the admission price for movie theaters, where we know the production values can be spectacular compared to live theater.
Some people have no interest in watching sports that were recorded to DVR, even though they may be great fans of the live event, and they do not yet know the results of the contest being shown. For others, it’s about watching the competition. Knowing the result absolutely kills interest for some, yet makes no difference to others. Some prospective parents ask their obstetrician to tell them the sex of their baby from the ultrasound. Long ago, I chose not to know because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise. I figured once we knew, we’d know forever.
Hot Tub Time Machine explores the absurd question of what it would be like to know the future. In the film, when the backwards time travelers have a small opening to return to the present, one of the three friends opts to stay in the past. Ironically, in the old present he was a ne’er do well, but after being re-united with his friends in the new present, he has become a successful businessman and family man. One of the many things I love about sports is that the favorites do not always win. You never know how the competition will turn out. If you did, it might still be fun, but it certainly wouldn’t be as exciting.