Duffer: TV golf a sleep aid?

TV golf a sleep inducer? Really?
Rod Perry
October 10, 2018
By Rod Perry
Oct. 10, 2018 – It almost pains me to write about this in a publication read by golf course superintendents, but a recent poll of more than 1,000 Americans suggests that a certain game involving a set of clubs, a ball and 18 holes is the dullest sport to watch and the one that’s best to cure insomnia.

Can you believe it? What blasphemy! Golf – a sleep aid?

This poll was conducted on behalf of Calm, a company that provides access to a downloadable series of guided meditation apps designed to promote better sleep.

According to the numbers, golf was the most sleep-inducing sport to watch by a country mile. In fact, a whopping 49 per cent of respondents said golf was the one to watch if sleep deprivation was ever an issue. Runner-up to golf as an insomnia cure was cricket at only 13 per cent.

Cricket? Honestly, how many Americans watch cricket on TV, or have ever watched it played? Where in the U.S. were these people polled?

In ascending order, the other sleep-inducing sports named were baseball, soccer, tennis, track and field, U.S. football, basketball, lacrosse and hockey. Hockey, understandably, was viewed as the most exciting of the sports named and – at only two per cent – the one least likely to put anyone to sleep.

I would demand a recount on the results of this survey conducted by the pollster eNation. According to recent Nielson ratings, TV viewership of PGA Tour events in which Tigers Woods is in contention to win on the weekend is the highest ever since he’s come back from oblivion. Nielson ratings don’t take into account whether viewers are awake or asleep during the shows they are supposedly watching, but if Woods is in contention, it would suggest the vast majority of them are wide awake and soaking in the action.

Is anyone able to watch cricket on U.S. television? It’s certainly not covered by any of the major broadcast networks, and if any of the cable sports channels are airing cricket, only a fraction of one per cent of American viewers will be tuned in.

I’ve actually mustered the courage to watch cricket, albeit on YouTube because that’s about the only platform on which it can be seen. It’s a bizarre game that can take days to play, and that’s only for one match! What other sport exists that sees its players take a break for tea? Seriously? And what’s up with the canoe paddles they use to swat the ball?

Cricket is essentially a sissified version of baseball that makes curling seem like a rollicking thrill ride. Curling, incidentally, didn’t make the list, nor did lawn bowling or darts. If you really want to cure your insomnia, watch these sports.

But how can 49 per cent of respondents suggest that watching golf is the gateway to a better sleep? Golf is exciting. What other sport allows celebrities to play alongside professionals in an actual sanctioned event? What other sport sees the ball propelled as hard and as long?

If it were up to me, I would recommend to someone wishing to cure his insomnia via sports to tune into a basketball game. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve compared basketball to watching paint dry. I find it monotonous to watch one team enter the other team’s zone, shoot at the basket and then retreat into its own zone to defend against its opponent whose strategy is to do the same thing. The scenario repeats itself ad nauseam until the clock runs out.

Snore! Just be sure to hit the mute button so that the teeth-grinding sound of 10 pairs of sneakers squeaking on the floor doesn’t keep you awake.

Of the four major team sports, hockey and basketball bear the most resemblance to one another. But the excitement level of one is off the scale while the other barely has a pulse. When a foul/penalty is committed in hockey, the offending player sits in a penalty box for two minutes while his team plays a man short. The excitement level builds while the team with the man advantage peppers the defending team with a barrage of shots. In basketball, the offending player remains on the court while the other team gets a free shot at an empty net. Yawn!

And why, after losing the ball in the offensive zone, does the defending basketball team retreat to its own end? Fore-checking works wonders in hockey. You’d think they’d at least try it in basketball. Maybe then you’d have more palatable final scores of perhaps 60-58 instead of 114-110.

There are other televised sports that stand a much better chance at putting insomniac viewers to sleep. Take motorsports, for example. Watching cars going round a track can be mesmerizing, often leading to heavy eyelids. It’s only the anticipation of an on-track accident that gives the sport any appeal, as far as I’m concerned.

But the king of sleep-inducing sports – if you can even call this a sport – is televised poker. But if it’s a cure for insomnia you’re looking for by way of watching televised sports, you can’t lose with poker, basketball or even cricket if you can find it. Golf, though, isn’t the answer – at least not among the readers of this publication.

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