Andy Sherwood just can’t find enough hours in his day to watch live sport on TV.
What are you usually doing at 5am on a Friday morning? That’s not a trick question. You’re probably tucked up fast asleep in bed. What you’re most likely not doing is watching live sport on your laptop.
Having lived in the UAE for a year and a half now, I’ve found my biggest hurdle in life isn’t the city’s taxis or the rent bubble, it’s planning my diary so I can watch my favourite sports teams.
I never knew being four hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time would cause me so many conundrums. But as someone who is more than a little passionate about football and American football (and also follows a bit of cricket) my weekly plans are now dictated by time zones, early-morning alarms and kick-off times – which, as you can imagine, my wife loves.
It all kicks off, quite literally, on a Saturday. My first appointment is with the English Premier League. The standard 3pm kick-off in the UK means an easily manageable 7pm start time in the UAE. This is good news for me but again, not so much for friends and my wife – I’ve told her I’ll be available next May for a romantic Saturday night out.
The rest of my week gets a little more tricky. Unlike the UK, here in the UAE we work on a Sunday – and that just happens to be the busiest day of the week for Time Out. A 4pm Sunday kick-off in the UAE means one thing: I have no chance of watching the match and spend my afternoon avoiding the score on Twitter, not to mention dodging ‘helpful’ colleagues who want to keep me posted on the result. It gets worse with the midweek fixtures. An 8pm kick-off in the UK means a 2am finish for me on a school night. NFL games are worse: a 4pm kick-off stateside is a 1am start over here.
Thankfully, modern technology has come to the rescue. I now record Premier League games through du and pay a subscription to view American football matches, meaning I can recline and watch them at a reasonable hour.
But I face the same problem with my friends – they just can’t resist telling me a result via text or email, meaning I spend most of the time with one eye watching a match on a big screen, the other eye looking at the tiny screen on my phone. The more I tell them not to text me, the more they do it. The more I try not to look at my phone, the more my eyes wander towards it, as if caught in a Star Trek tractor beam.
And my sporting diary is about to get even busier. The Ashes have just started in Australia, meaning I’ve got to find time for five cricket test matches, each of which can last five days. And Australia is seven hours ahead of the UAE. A Dubai cabbie once told me he downs the energy drink Vitaene so he can put in an 18-hour shift. ‘You will never fall asleep,’ he said through bloodshot, vacant eyes. I’m thinking of taking out shares in the company.
Or inventing a time machine.
Still, it’s not all bad news. The American football season ends February and the Premier League concludes in May, meaning I’ll get some much deserved time off. Apart from when the cricket starts again next summer. Oh and don’t forget the World Cup in Brazil in June...