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Essay

Sleepy sports fan

By Patrick St. Michel

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I have woken up at five in the morning, far earlier than I usually do on a Monday. I quietly walk into the living room, brew up a pot of coffee and turn my computer on. The reason I'm up at the crack of dawn isn't to study or catch up on work (though it probably should be).

Rather, I'm braving a day of exhaustion to watch live sports from America.

I've found this to be a common phenomenon among people from Western countries now living in Japan who also count themselves as sports fans. Regardless of what time we have to get up or what shady websites we have to use, seeing our favorite teams play remains a big part of our lives, whatever the sport.

I'm sure Japanese can sympathize. When the Olympics or the World Cup are held in a distant time zone, events and matches usually start after midnight or in the very early morning. During the 2014 World Cup, which was held in Brazil, I'd wake up at 6:30 a.m. to get ready for work, and see people wearing Samurai Blue kits streaming out of nearby bars.

But one difference is that they were taking in the biggest sporting event on Earth, one that only happens every four years, and they were in like-minded company. I wake up usually before the sun every Monday to watch two American football teams play a regular season contest, knowing I'll repeat this ritual for about 21 straight weeks. And there is nothing communal about it. Just me rooting in front of a laptop.

Well, at least I'm not alone in this dedication. I've known British friends to stay up all night in Shibuya bars so that they can watch live a hotly anticipated European soccer league final at 4:30 a.m. Another American pal doesn't watch live, but subjects himself to a self-imposed blackout, completely ignoring the internet and all sports news. When he finally watches the game at home, his enjoyment is pure and unspoiled. That's dedication.

It sounds ridiculous at times, but sports is one of the things that keep people connected to their home countries. I oftentimes feel disconnected from the United States when it comes to politics or pop culture ... but absolutely plugged in on debates about the NBA All-Star Game starting fives. It's an easy link to the place where I'm from, requiring no real context to enjoy.

Of course, it comes with potential drawbacks. On this particular Monday, I've gotten up early for the privilege of watching my favorite team get blown out. If I'd known that was coming, I would have taken the extra two hours of shut-eye.

眠いスポーツファン

月曜日は朝5時に起きてアメリカのスポーツ中継を見る筆者。スポーツファンたちは時差を物ともせず、熱心に試合を観戦する。母国を離れても、好きなスポーツの話題に乗り遅れることはないそうだ。

The Japan Times ST: February 17, 2017

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