I remember the day very vividly: September 1, 2016. That was the day I received an offer from Dart Real Estate on Grand Cayman to join the company as their vice-president of leasing.
I was working in San Francisco at the time and receiving an offer to relocate to an international destination evoked many emotions — happiness, curiosity, excitement and of course, a little bit of fear. Not only had I never been to Grand Cayman before, I’d never even been to the Caribbean. Still, the decision was an easy one for me. I was ready to leave the Bay Area and who wouldn’t jump at the chance to live on a Caribbean island? I was the envy of everybody I told.
However, what kept me up at night as I pondered if I was making the right decision was not one of the many things most people probably worry about when moving to another country. For me, it was sports.
You see, I’m a sports addict. Others play guitar, paint, hike or have myriad other hobbies that take up whatever free time they have. I watch sports: basketball, football, soccer (or football depending on your country of origin), hockey, baseball, boxing, tennis, golf … you name it. If there’s a big sporting event on, you can rest assured I am in front of a TV somewhere watching it. What kept me up nights with worry about my impending move was whether I would still be able to do that on Grand Cayman.
After literally doing hours of research, I found for the most part I would be okay. The cable companies appeared to carry the major U.S. networks, so I was good with all the major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, NBA playoffs, the World Series etc. Also, to my pleasant surprise, they carried the CBC, which I did not get in California, so I could go back in time to my days growing up in northern Ontario watching Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights, just with the air conditioning on as opposed to the heater.
Well, that’s about where the good news stopped. I arrived on the island and with great anticipation turned on my TV. Ah, there she was, the mother lode … ESPN! Wait, they’re showing cricket! Cricket?? Where is the basketball game?? ESPN Caribbean somebody told me, not the USA feed of ESPN. What about HBO? HBO Caribbean as well, so no boxing for me on Saturday nights. Showtime? That brought up a “not available outside the USA viewing area” message. No worries, I thought, I would just use my Comcast app and watch TV as if I were sitting in my living room in California. Oops, there was the ever-present, soul crushing “outside the USA” message again. Seeing that message pop up on my screen became almost as sure as the sun setting in the west.
What was a sports fanatic like myself to do? I couldn’t go to a bar every night, as my wallet nor my liver could handle it. On the nights I went out to watch a game, in talking with other sports fans, I would hear terms like VPN, IPTV, pirating and jail break. Wait, pirating, jail break? I didn’t want to be a pirate or go to jail, I just wanted to watch sports from the comfort of my own couch, particularly my beloved Golden State Warriors, although with their games starting at 10:30 p.m. here as opposed to 7:30 p.m. in California, watching those games posed another problem for somebody who considers going to bed at 10:00 a late night.
Still, I wasn’t about to give up, and without giving away my trade secrets, I have been able to solve most of my sports-watching challenges. That being said, watching a live sporting event on my laptop as opposed to my 65-inch 4K HDTV with full surround sound just isn’t the same.
But what else isn’t the same is being able to leave work, take a walk along the beach, jump in the warm water, watch the sunset and then come home and watch the night’s game of choice. Something tells me I’m not giving that up anytime soon.