Last season Aston Villa went 451 minutes without scoring at one point. I did some research then and found out that it was the longest such streak since before 2010. I probably could have gone back farther to figure out definitely what streak before that was worse (there has to have been one, right?) but it was wildly depressing and so I left it at that.
Well, as has been noted plenty of times, Villa have blown past that mark and are currently sitting at 531 minutes without a goal. I'm still not going to delve further back into the records because it should be enough to simply say "not in this decade have Villa had a longer stretch of futility." It's not been a good decade, and at least in terms of scoring this club has hit the nadir with the odd little wrinkle that we aren't actually sure how much lower that point can be.
But, I wanted to put this into perspective. If you've been watching, you have seen 8.85 hours of football that have been devoid of goals from the team you ostensibly care about. You absolutely could have been doing something better with that time, so let's see what it is. Note: I'm not even counting the time you give up during halftime and the few minutes before the match when you hunker down and cozy up with a bottle of something strong to convince yourself this will all be worth watching. So without further ado:
How you could have better spent the past 531 minutes you have watched Villa flail aimlessly at a football
Read a book
There's a neat graphic that made the rounds on the Internet a little while ago that estimates, given average reading speeds, how quickly you could read certain famous books. It turns out that 8.85 hours of continuous reading would get you some pretty serious literature. You could read, for instance, all of The Time Traveller's Wife. If you prefer something a bit more classic, you could have finished The Canterbury Tales or A Tale of Two Cities. It is October, and everyone is in the mood for a spooky book, right? Why not read Interview With The Vampire? There you can read about creatures who seduce you with promises of passion and then suck you dry rather than watch them run about on a soccer pitch.
But my favorite bit of this is that you could have read The Great Gatsby, A Wrinkle in Time, AND Little House on the Prairie in this whole time. The senselessness of the modern world, paradoxes of time and space, and a refreshing trip to a bygone era. Certainly time better spent than watching Villa.
Watch a movie
You would have been almost finished watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy by now had you started watching after Gabby found the back of the net against Liverpool. You'd only have 26 minutes to go! Granted, those are not the extended editions, but you'd get the gist of it all.
Or, if you'd like a bit more variety, you could have given yourself a master class in cinema. A pretty standard "Greatest movies" list is the AFI 100. If you wanted just the best of the best, you could've seen Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Casablanca, and Raging Bull and only taken three more minutes than you spent watching Villa. You could've told Rosebud to leave the gun in any gin joint before Ray ever got you down.
Cook a meal
Alright, this is stretching a bit, since you didn't have all of this time consecutively, but if you HAD, you could have made some absolutely KILLER pulled pork.
Listen to music
You could have heard EVERY Led Zeppelin studio album and STILL almost finished their 150-minute live album How the West Was Won. If classic rock isn't your thing, you could have made your way through Herbert von Karajan's 1963 complete set of Beethoven's symphonies recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic with plenty of time left over. Or, you could hear the Guarneri Quartet give you the complete Beethoven string quartets with 7 minutes to spare.
In other realms of music, you could have chanted the ubiquitous "Villa, Villa, VILLA! VILLA, Villa, Villa" chant 5,540 times. (assuming 5.75 seconds per cycle)
Spent time with family/friends
Think of the memories you could have made with 8.85 hours free to do what you want with those in your life to whom you are closest!
Literally anything else
Because let's face it. Pretty much anything else would have been preferable to watching Villa in this stretch. They've been terrible, and as Monday's loss at QPR demonstrated, it's not down to just the strength of the opponent.
So this Sunday, why not make a change? If Villa win and you miss it, you could catch the highlight on Match of the Day. And if they lose? You'll be happy knowing you did something better.