by Mike Todd
“AAAAAAHHHH!” I screamed, slamming the laptop lid shut.
“What happened?” my wife, Kara, asked. From the look on her face, she was assuming I’d just received an email from our doctor telling me that I only have seven days left to live.
“I almost found out how the Eagles game ended,” I said.
“Whoa, careful! You’d better stay off of Facebook until after we watch the game,” she replied, shaking her head. I didn’t even make a conscious decision to look at Facebook. My fingers just went there out of pure muscle memory, like how a dead snake can still bite you.
The regular reader(s) of this column may recall that our family cut our cable TV two years ago, which has been a smashing, $90-per-month-saving success, allowing us to focus our free time on our actual lives, specifically the part of our lives that watches Netflix. The only catch is that we lost access to live sports, which means that it’s nearly impossible for us to live vicariously through the physical accomplishments of people much larger, and often much hairier, and often with far itchier groins, than ourselves.
If we could grab the free over-the-air TV signal, the one that everyone forgot existed about 30 years ago, we’d be all set, but the only channel we can pick up at our house is a religious one, notorious for its poor sports coverage. My dad, though, recently cut their cable as well, after determining that he could pick up over 20 channels by simply installing a gigantic antenna in his attic. He texted me a picture of the antenna as he assembled it in his living room; he looked like a paleontologist assembling the skeleton of a great winged dinosaur.
He pulled it off, though, and can watch network TV just like he was paying for it. We don’t have that option, and as our sons get older, the situation is becoming dire.
“I like the Buffalo Bills,” our 6-year-old son, Evan, declared recently.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What do you know about the Buffalo Bills?” I asked.
“My friend Carina likes them,” he said.
“What about the Eagles?” I asked.
He stared blankly at me, and in that blankness, I saw my failure as a father.
When I was growing up, a world without the Eagles would have been unimaginable. They ruled my Sundays and many of the days in-between. And now my sons were growing up Eagle-less, all because their parents were too cheap to set $90 on fire every month.
A few weeks ago, though, Kara solved the problem. For the cost of one month of cable, you can purchase access to every NFL game for the entire season, streaming over the Internet to your TV. As a bonus, the commercials are stripped out, which means that each week we miss an hour of ads devoted to all the things that really define who we are as a nation: beer, fast food, trucks, seven-blade razors and erectile dysfunction pills.
To make things even more efficient, there’s an option to watch football in “compressed” mode, which shows the entire game in just 42 minutes. That might sound impossible, but according to a recent news story, football games, which last an average of 191 minutes, only feature 11 minutes of actual football. The rest is comprised of 17 minutes of replays, over an hour of ads and 75 minutes of players just milling around, walking off their concussions.
The only catch to viewing the games this way is that they are unavailable until 8 p.m. on Sunday, several hours after the rest of the world already knows how badly the Eagles lost. It’s a small price to pay to have a shot at raising our sons as Eagles fans, though. In just 42 minutes a week, they can have their souls crushed right along with us.