Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why watching Sports is like doing Yoga

On one of my previous trips to Mysore, I attended a Yoga Philosophy class and the conclusion I drew from it was that Roger Federer is a Yogi.

A key fundamental about Yoga is the ability to focus and be completely present in the moment.  This point was re-emphasised this year when I lived and breathed Wimbledon and Olympics air for a about a month.

Usually I watch my tennis on television but this year, I was blessed with a Wimbledon Centre Court ticket for Men’s Semi-finals day.  First up was Roger Federer (also referred to by my family as “My Hero”) versus some guy called Novak Djokovic.  People closest to me know that I cannot watch any live Federer telecast.  I may start sitting down, but at times of stress, I will inevitably fidget, stand up, pace and eventually hide in another room.  My friends have given up coming over to watch with me because they inevitably end up watching it alone.  They say, “I might as well stay home”.

Watching in person, on the other hand, is a completely different story.  I am very calm, quiet and remain glued to my seat.  When I watched Federer play at the Australian Open, I thought it was because I was alone.  So of course I had to behave and not show strangers how idiotic I am, right?  This year, I went Wimbledon  with a friend but I was just as calm (ok … maybe I pulled his shirt at a key moment … but just not more than twice!).  I then realised that watching live tennis is different in the following ways:

1) Live tennis is way faster than watching it on tv.
Television does the skill of the players no justice.  You don’t appreciate how hard they hit, how fast their reactions are and how they do all that so consistently until you see the top players live.
2) There are no replays.
Once the point is played, there is no way of watching it again.  So, if you snooze, you lose.

3) You only see one angle.
On tv where they have cameras all over the court so they zoom in close to the players in between points or pan away to different sides of the court.

4) There is no commentary.
Commentators are invariably biased and their ‘’professional opinion’’ just hypes things up for the viewer.

All this led me to the conclusion that when you watch tennis live, it’s like doing yoga.  You only focus on one thing … watching the ball.  And once the point is over, you just move on to the next point.  There is no time to dwell on past points or to think about the next point.  If you do, you will miss the current action.

London Olympics:
This point was re-emphasised during the Olympics.  I was fortunate to watch a few events live, catching the remainder on tv or online.  The BBC coverage was Awesome! 2-4 events on tv and up to 24 live streams of coverage online.  This means I could toggle between different events simultaneously.  In comparison, people were in Singapore had to watch whatever was given to them (especially if it was our tabletennis team of foreign talent ;o)).  In the US, ''lagi'' (Malay for ''even'') worse - they couldn't even watch the Men's 100m final live!

With such expansive coverage, it was amazing but also overwhelming.  Trying to watch more than 1 event at a time meant that you never fully appreciated the drama of each moment of each event.  The build-up, the intensity on the athlete’s faces, the moment of execution and the elation / despair of the result.

So, as I get onto my mat every morning, I am reminded of how I should approach Life … take it slowly, one breath at a time, fully appreciating each and every moment with gratitude.

The UK went all out to support Team GB, even to the extent of doctoring their flowers

Artistic Gymnastics at the North Greenwich Arena (they weren't allowed to call it the O2 arena because O2 wasn't an official sponsor)

aka a Monster in Pain

Simultaneous sports spectating