It's Time to Change America's Favorite Sport

“Yeah, we don’t have a TV in our bedroom. We only have one TV, actually.” It’s been a source of pride for me to say, I’ll admit. Detachment from the TV is just one slice of our family’s whole “simple living” thing to become more detached from many other things—from clothes and shoes, from subscriptions, from a big home or a new car, and from all of the comparisons.

Then why did we just move our TV out of the living room and into our bedroom? In short, Celia and I are too attached to the TV. Whether it’s Netflix, sports, YouTube, or an occasional movie, consuming at least an hour of TV each night has been a tough habit for us to break. In several days since the move, however, we’ve spent significantly less time watching TV before going to bed. Go figure! It’s been easier to sit in the living room to do some personal reading or spend quality, undistracted time with one another. We took our primary social space (besides the dining room/kitchen) and not only reclaimed it as a social space, but, in a sense, we made an upgrade to the quality of leisure time spent there.

TV Watching: America's Favorite Sport

This attachment to TV, unsurprisingly, seems to be an epidemic throughout households in the United States. The 2017 American Time Use Survey from the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Statistics found that Americans average 5.24 hours per day doing "all leisure and sports activities." A whopping 2.77 hours (53%) of that leisure time is spent watching TV. Other studies claim either that happiness decreases as a result of more TV watching, or, that people who are unhappy tend to watch more TV. Either way you slice it, TV watching and happiness are not a marriage made in heaven.

How else do we spend our leisure time?

Other categories included in the survey were socializing and communicating, relaxing and thinking, playing games, computer leisure use (not for games or watching videos), personal reading, and “sports, recreation, and exercise.” All of those added up to a total of 2.47 hours per day! The next highest leisure activity after TV watching was "socializing and communication" which clocked in at 0.65 hours (39 min) per day. That category is a bit deceiving, too, because it includes the time we spend in front of a screen on social media.

How will you spend your leisure time?

We already know most of our options. If not, we can easily see what we’re probably doing (and not doing) in the chart above. One final stat, and it may be the most alarming: 22 minutes a day "relaxing and thinking." And what fraction of that is praying? How can we even be aware of what God is doing in our lives and how he is calling us? Are we even aware of what we're doing with our time if we're not thinking about it?

Perhaps it could help to track or log the time you spend on certain activities to get a clearer picture. In the end, I can't help but think that a good goal would be to simply “balance” these categories of our leisure time—to increase our book reading, and our exercise, recreation, and sports, and even our “playing games” with one another to garner more face to face socializing. Our family took a very small but meaningful step this week. We moved our only TV into the bedroom. What is a small step that you can take today?

Now, excuse me while I go for a relaxing walk and do some thinking. :)

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