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3:33 Sports Short #2 // The Overnight

by Miles Doyle

Whenever I have trouble sleeping, which seems to occur more regularly with age, I turn on the local sports station here in New York—WFAN, Sports Radio 66, the FAN. In place of rest and reinvention, I listen to men and women with biographies polished down to poetry—Bruce from Bayside, Lisa from Whitestone, Ira from Staten Island. To a person, they obsess about strategy and statistics, turning points and missed opportunities, anything that might help them make sense of events completely out of their control.

The overnight, as the five-hour slot is called, is made up entirely of hyperbole and hard lines. An athlete is celebrated or condemned based solely on the latest box score; he is, according to these disembodied voices, only as good as his last at-bat, the previous possession.

Mike from Montclair says it’s time for the Giants to get rid of Eli Manning because, despite his two Super Bowls, he still mismanaged the clock against the Cowboys and the freakin’ Jets.

An hour later, Dave in Westchester swears Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks seven-foot-three sensation, is already, barely half-way through his rookie season, the third most electric player in the NBA, behind only LeBron James and Steph Curry.

This, I realize, is what insomnia sounds like, certainty trying to shout down doubt.

*

My grandmother—Nanny, we called her—used to listen to the radio at night too. She first turned it on, she later admitted, because she didn’t want to think about my mother sharing a bed with my father, who had finally come clean after years of infidelity. When my grandmother’s rosary no longer cut it, she found momentary repose in news updates, and weather and traffic reports (together on the eights), a habit she continued long after my mother, sisters, and I were all tucked in beds right down the hall from her.

*

Insomnia, it turns out, is a common condition, like death and heartbreak. Everyone experiences it eventually, despite every effort to guard against it. Because there’s no right way to get through it, everyone has to figure it out on his or her own.

Some people boil milk. Others read mysteries or play Bejeweled, cocooned in the protective blue light of their iPhones.

Some call in to sports talk radio programs.

*

I listen to their ridiculous claims and wild propositions, try to empty my head of all doubt and determine, when sleep is slow to come, where I begin and where I end, the distance between me and other men. I listen in the dark to their fanaticism, their near-pathological belief in the box score, which remains, regardless of everything else, black and white, iron-clad, stubborn and hard like a conscience.


Miles Doyle is a writer and editor based in New York. He earned his MFA at the University of San Francisco. His work has appeared in Switchback, Time Out New York, Forham, The Jersey Journal, and more.

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