“Don’t tell me the result”
Nobody likes a spoiler.
The premature revelation of a movie plot frustrates like nothing else. It happens to all us; we go see a film with a friend, only for them to accurately “predict” the ending, midway through. Such an “educated guess” ruins the remainder of our cinema experience. After all, our primary means of enjoyment comes from that element of surprise.
Football is no different; knowing the result of a delayed game severely compromises our faux-live experience. While the knowledge of a win may be satisfying in itself, one attains far more pleasure from watching the match unfold. From the first quarter heartbreaks to the final minute triumphs, football is best enjoyed with no synopsis, script, or trailer.
Football is best enjoyed live.
Due to work commitments, I was unable to follow my beloved Demons on Sunday. Geographic constraints prevented me from attending the match, while work protocols denied me the presence of television or radio. My only option was to resign myself to intermittent score updates. Either that, or become a hermit, and wait half a day for the broadcast to be replayed online.
I choose the latter.
One of the problems is, I work at the football (but not at the MCG, otherwise this story would be downright ridiculous). In this environment, live scores are commonplace and television screens are in abounds. It is hence impossible to avoid contact with the football scores.
Unless, of course, you are determined to avoid them.
At two-thirty I was told to go on my break. In normal circumstances, such a command would bring me great pleasure. This time, though, I felt a little uneasy. My route to the tea room took me around the oval’s perimeter, past the masses of Carlton and Sydney supporters. It also took me past the abundance of television monitors, each one proudly displaying the half-time results for the MCG game.
I sunk my face to the floor, scared that my eyes may betray me and take a peek at the scores. Thankfully, they behaved. But it was still no use.
“Melbourne’s up at half time,” revealed one of my colleagues, unaware of my predicament. I didn’t know how to react.
On one hand, I was enraged. WHY WOULD YOU RUIN THE SCORES?!?, my inner voice yelled.
At the same time, though, I was overjoyed. My team, after all, was winning! I’d take an invisible Demon victory over a loss, any day of the week.
More importantly, this was the extent of my colleague’s disclosure. He had revealed to me no scores, no goalkickers, no nothing. My only news was a vague half-time report of the winning team. I can deal with that, I convinced myself. My efforts to filter out updates resumed.
The situation became more and more complicated as the day wore on.
When passing by Richmond station on the train home, I was wary not to lift my head. I knew that even the smallest semblance of colour could reveal to me a great deal.
Much to my relief, only a few people entered my carriage. While I didn’t dare to take notice of their attire, I couldn’t smell any red and blue, nor purple in the air. Such an absence suggested that neither team was being thrashed, an ambiguous inference I could live with. My vow of ignorance thus continued.
A dilemma arose in the afternoon, when I was set to meet up a group of friends. Upon seeing them, though, I hopped straight onto the front foot.
“If you know the results, don’t tell me,” replaced my customary salutation. “I’m watching the replay afterwards,” came my subsequent justification. Indeed, none of my mates knew the results. Either that, or they were nice enough not to tell me. My obsession with not knowing the scores may have puzzled them, but at least they were loyal enough to humour me.
One of my friend’s choices of radio stations in his car likewise worked in my favour. On any other day, I would lambasted him for his embarrassing selection of music. Today, though, Pink and Rihanna suited me just fine. Just so long as their lyrics steered clear of football.
The night wore on with a self-imposed ban of media. All radios and television were switched off. Facebook, meanwhile, remained a definite no-go zone. In the event of an emergency, I decided not to part ways with my mobile phone. I nevertheless treated every incoming message with utmost trepidation, wary that a non-existent Fremantle acquaintance might try to contact me.
Having disengaged myself from the outside world, an early night ensued. I wrapped myself under the blankets and celebrated my mini-victory. I had made it through ten hours without a score update. All I needed now was to get through the night.
During my sleep, Melbourne and Fremantle contested a few dozen matches. In one game, Matthew Pavlich starred with ten goals. In another, Garry Lyon blazed away with a bag of six. In the meantime, I found myself grabbing a fair bit of the fantasy football; over the course of the night I must have won at least fifty possessions.
Around 7am a series of alarms – not the radio – snapped me back into reality. I’m not usually one for Monday mornings. But football changes everything. Before the thought of breakfast even penetrated my consciousness, the replay was blaring through my laptop.
What followed was one-hundred and twenty minutes of bliss.
One-hundred and twenty minutes of live, unexpected, bliss.