Guilty Pleasures Series: #3 – Sports

With March Madness in full swing and down to the Elite Eight it’s a good time to write about another guilty pleasure: Sports!

Sports at the highest level can be very entertaining, intriguing and interesting. I like sports played hard and fair. Sport at its very best showcases the very best in skill, talent, temperament, team spirit (if it’s a team sport) and the desire to excel. In addition it can teach life lessons about hard work, discipline, team spirit/working towards common goal, overcoming adversities, perseverance, persistence, giving one’s best effort and accepting the end result at the end of a fair contest. Sport can bring together fans from different walks of life in a way few human endeavors can. πŸ‘

Back in the mid to late 1990s when I first came to the USA I started following professional sports. It started with watching NBA basketball. The reason was simple. The goal is to score baskets! Not hard to follow even for a newbie. When I initially watched NFL football my first thought was “What’s the point about big, strong guys banging their heads and hurting themselves for what is in essence a trivial pursuit?” πŸ˜„ After I learned a bit about the rules watching the games on TV I have now become a convert and enjoy football games and appreciate the skills involved in playing the game. I could watch entire games earlier even during the regular season. Nowadays I rarely watch full games. Now it’s more about fitting the game between snacking sessions and doing other chores. Watching games without snacking is a no go 🀣 Me being a Wisconsinite the Milwaukee Bucks are my favorite basketball team and the Green Bay Packers in football. I also like the fact that the Packers are unique in that the team is owned by the town of Green Bay and it’s one of the most well known professional sports franchises in possibly the smallest town!

What do I feel guilty about watching sports?

1) Making it to the highest level in professional sports is very tough. To play well enough to make a full career out of it is even tougher. To achieve the pinnacle of success and to be able to sustain high level of play for a long time is the toughest. The career span of a sportsperson is short and in contact sports the risk of a career ending injury is just too high. While I enjoy a well executed offense or a well played defense it’s always difficult to watch a sportsperson limping off the field or being carted away due to an injury during play. ☹️

2) With the “winner take all” culture that is there it’s sad to see some sportspersons try to gain an edge by any means, fair or foul. Could be by taking banned substances or with dirty play or simply by needling opponents into making a stupid mistake and getting penalized for that. The superstars of course push the envelope secure in the knowledge the refs would give them more leeway as they bring is more fans to the games

3) Corporate culture has pervaded sports too in that the squeaky wheel always gets the grease. Good players who play with whatever cards they are dealt with and not making a noise are not surrounded by a good supporting cast to improve the chance of winning. If they make a noise and threaten to leave more effort and much more money is spent to keep them in the team. Just like an employee in an organization threatening to leave and then getting a big raise (for fear they may jump ship to work for a competitor). The cost gets passed on to the paying fans, the advertisers and the team sponsors whereas the cost would be less if valid concerns are addressed before they turn into full blown threats to leave. In some ways everyone supporting a team/sportsperson has some responsibility for this as chase for sporting glory justifies any associated cost. Such is life, such is business, such is sports. πŸ™

Guilty Pleasures Series: #1 – Food Shows

Kicking off the Guilty Pleasures series with my #1 guilty pleasure: Watching food/cooking shows on TV. With the restrictions on travel in recent times I am sure everyone has sought comfort in hobbies and activities that have a comfort feel to them. In the past couple of years I have taken to watching food and cooking shows. The language of food is probably one of the most universal and nothing beats the fun of drooling over a well cooked and well presented dish 😊 Apart from the creativity, passion and skill of talented chefs what I like about cooking is the fact that in its own way cooking reminds of software development with the chefs bringing in different components in a way they all work well together and are presented in a eater friendly manner: in short making it a memorable user experience!

Some of the shows I have watched and enjoyed are “Beat Bobby Flay”, “Chopped”, “Diners, Drive-ins and Drives”, “Hell’s Kitchen”. Like different foods for different seasons different shows for different reasons.

“Beat Bobby Flay” features chef Bobby Flay, who is a beast in the kitchen, taking on challengers and trying to beat them at making dishes they are known best for. Majority of time Bobby emerges as a winner because he keeps it simple. Makes flavor, texture and taste as highest priority and making sure the dishes work in a cohesive manner as well as focusing on the presentation. What that calls for is time management discipline, not going in for anything overly ambitious if it increases risk. Even if it’s a dish that Bobby is not familiar with he ends up winning many a times making sure that the ingredient which is supposed to be the star of the dish does stand out while the competitors may fall into the trap of either going in for something quite ambitious or try to do too many things ending up with not enough time to present well or the star ingredient getting lost with all the other flavor profiles at work.

“Chopped” features 3 courses: Appetizer round followed by EntrΓ©e and finally the Dessert round. Chopped is like watching an Agile approach project at work. It’s iterative in that there are multiple courses and it’s adaptive because contestants get feedback after each round which they can use to deliver a better eating experience in subsequent rounds.

“Diners, Drive-ins and Drives” features restaurants in different parts of the country offering their own specialities. Good to see chefs that may not be very well known outside their own immediate vicinity get exposure to show their passion and creations to a wider audience. πŸ‘

“Hell’s Kitchen” and other Gordon Ramsay hosted food shows feature talented chefs offering their own creative take on different dishes with the bonus possibility of the host of throwing in some F-bombs in the show πŸ˜€

What makes it a guilty pleasure for me? With the amount of food tasted by the judges not being much I always hope that no leftover food or ingredients are wasted. For the effort that goes into making the dishes and the fact that quite a few people do not have the means to afford a decent meal it would be criminal if food gets wasted. I have never experienced food insecurity but volunteering couple of times in a food pantry is enough to understand how many people may be struggling to put food on their table and the effort that goes into making food available to people who need it. It’s a humbling and learning experience πŸ™