Kareem Says Watch More TV, and He Might Just Be Right

There are many ways to describe Los Angeles Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  Tall.  All-time leading scorer.  NBA champion.  Starred in the movie Airplane!  Funny goggles. 

He's also a pretty deep thinker.  So it was with great interest that I read "Life Lessons with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar" at Esquire.com.  A lot of these were unsurprising although no less profound and arresting.  But one made me think in a good way:

18. Watch more TV. Yeah, you heard right, Little Kareem. It’s great that you always have your nose in history books. That’s made you more knowledgeable about your past and it has put the present in context. But pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.

Especially since the beginning of the year, when I took on more responsibilities at work, I have had even less time for TV.  The only TV I watch is about 60-70 games total per year between basketball, baseball, and football, and none of those are watched live, but rather the next morning while frantically fast-forwarding to compress a 3 1/2 hour event into 30 minutes.  Also, Amy and I will Netflix our way through some past season of a show like Criminal Minds or Dexter; again, not anywhere close to live, and thus nowhere close to when the rest of the world is watching.

Per Kareem, there's something to be said about consuming pop culture at the moment it is being broadcast.  It is like watching history in the making.  And, importantly, it can be talked about the next morning around the water cooler, at the gym, and on the bus.  

And that's the part I think I'm missing.  If I want to be influential for the Kingdom of God, I can't be secluded from what's on the mind of my co-workers, neighbors, and friends.  I can't cycle furiously between work, chores, kids, and sleep.  I have to interact with people, taking in a ballgame while it's being played rather than 12 hours later, or dishing about a show the morning after instead of catching up on it several years later.  

To be sure, TV can be a huge waste of time and a huge suck on one's soul.  Many people would do well to watch less of it and spend less time thinking and talking about it.  But that doesn't mean it has zero redeeming qualities to it.  Sports are a great way to break the ice with a stranger or a friend.  And yukking it up or going on a rant about last night's juicy episode is a fantastic way to delve into much deeper issues with the people around us.  

May has been a crazy month for me so far, and it doesn't appear to be abating any time soon.  But if you see me catching the NBA playoffs at a nearby bar or suddenly being conversant on what's what with Scandal, now you'll know how I did it and why. 
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