Jewish World Review June 21, 2004 / 2 Tamuz, 5764

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

The many hazards of TV sports | Too late for the hockey playoffs but just in time for Olympic synchronized swimming, the British Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has drawn up a fan's survival guide on how to avoid strains and muscle injuries while watching sports on TV.

While the advice is mainly directed at soccer fans, I think the principles hold true for fans of more American sports such as baseball, football and senior golf. For example, the Society warns that flailing your arms to protest a bad play or call can result in upper-body strains. Curling up into the fetal position after the opposing team scores a goal is bad for the back, and excessive celebration after a score can damage every part of your body, the guide warns.

As someone who once threw his back out bending over to pick up the remote control, I am well aware of the hazards of watching televised sports. A recent Tampa Bay Devil Rays game that the Rays lost by something like 12 to 1 had me so wound up that it was almost the second inning before I was able to fall asleep in my chair.

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Over the years I've suffered a variety of TV-related sports injuries (or is it sports-related TV injuries?) that the British Chartered Society of Physiotherapy failed to address in its guide. For example:

  • Take care when reaching for the bag of Cheez Doodles. Snatching the bag of salty snacks too suddenly can cause painful rib injuries or groin pulls, either of which could prevent you from competing for the bean dip.

  • Repeated trips to the refrigerator for more beer can lead to muscle cramps, toenail loss and general dehydration. One of those beer-can hats favored by stock-car-racing fans is a good solution as long as your neck is properly braced.

  • If you must watch televised sports in the company of other people, make sure all of your conversations are directed at the TV screen. Swiveling your head to talk to another person can cause a painful neck strain and also may result in you missing some important action in the latest Budweiser commercial.

  • Incessant switching back and forth to different sporting events can lead to wrist or forearm injuries. If possible, enlist your spouse or one of your children to punch the buttons for you.

  • If a favorite player or team does something good, it is best not to whoop or holler or otherwise give yourself over to excessive celebration. (See above.) Instead, try responding to the action with a whispered bravo or, even better, tap your index finger gently against the side of your beer can. The athletes on TV can't see or hear you anyway, so why risk breaking a hip or cracking a collarbone over a simple two-point conversion?

  • Sitting in a chair for long periods of time can cause lower-back problems. If you haven't done so already, consider installing a TV set in your bedroom so you can watch all sporting events from a prone position. During football season, when there are many games on, you might want to ask your spouse to fix you up with a catheter so you can avoid those nagging bathroom-break-related pulls and strains.

    My guess is that she'd be more than happy to comply.

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    JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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