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The Five: Worst sports to watch on TV

by Bob Sassone, posted Jul 28th 2006 9:10AM

Fishing ESPNYesterday I listed the best sports to watch on television. Here's my list for the worst.

1. Fishing: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

2. Auto racing: You know what bugs me about auto racing? I can never tell who's in the lead. Oh, sure, I can see on the screen who's ahead by laps, but where's the drama in that? I think auto racing should be like a marathon or horse racing. You can always tell who is winning those races because the winner is the one in the lead. That's not true for auto racing. And I think it takes away from the sport (that and the fact that you have to watch it for 100, 200, 500 laps). So what are non-diehard fans left with? Waiting for the car crashes, and that makes us feel creepy.

3. Soccer: Yeah, I know. Sorry to be the typical American who doesn't get the popularity of soccer. I actually loved playing soccer in school, but watching it? God, it seems to go on forever, and unless the player does something incredibly cool and fancy with their footwork, most of the players just seem like they're kicking the ball aimlessly and chasing it around the (too big) field, and at the end the game ends 0-0 or 1-0. I did watch a couple of World Cup matches this year, and that head butt was exciting, but other than that...sorry.

4. Golf: Boy, I bet I'm making a lot of friends today, eh? My brother in law and my nephew are going to be pissed at me. Golf is another sport that I love playing, but watching it just bores me to tears. Though I'd like to see televised miniature golf. Wouldn't it be great to see Tiger Woods or Michelle Wie trying to get a hole-in-one around a giant windmill, playing against some fat drunk guy who plays mini golf on weekends? Hey, ESPN covers darts and the National Spelling Bee, so this can't be too far behind.

5. Boxing: You hardly ever see cool fights like in the Rocky movies. Most fights are pretty boring affairs. And who is there to root for nowadays?

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unpoco19

Darts!! Darts out bores them all!! You the hell's idea was it to put darts on tv?!?!

April 18 2012 at 2:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sherman

I usually track "The Five" with just a chuckle, but I think these two (Best/Worst Sports on TV) are off the mark. Here's why: most of the other "The Five" topics are about things that were made for TV. Most sports pre-date TV and have definitely been impacted by the rise of television.

So rather than just stating personal taste (which honestly is the main appeal of "The Five"), this topic provides the opportunity to examine what sports are best and worst served by television.

NFL Football: Remember when baseball was the national past-time? That was before television made football the premier U.S. sport (for advertising dollars and attention) that it is today. How many of the top US television audiences belong to the Super Bowl?

MLB Baseball: I'd rather listen on the radio (to a good announcer) than watch most games, but the art of radio baseball broadcasting is on the wane.

Olympics: I'm surprised no one mentioned this on either list (as far as I could tell). Love them or hate them, the global TV audience is huge, and the budgets for hosting the Games depends greatly on TV revenue.

Cricket: I've tried watching this cousin of baseball on the AZN network and am fascinated by the crowds but just can't get into it. Of course, the U.S. television ratings reflect that. The target audience literally pays for coverage of the biggest matches/tournaments.

NHL Hockey: I love watching hockey live at any level (high school, collegiate, minor league and NHL), but U.S. broadcasts just seem to drain the energy out of it, unlike the way TV ratchets up the drama, say, in football. But the most damning evidence of how poor a TV sport hockey is, well, the lack of a stable, lucrative TV contract.

NBA Basketball: In general I don't like pro basketball, and the attempts at hyping in the post-Michael Jordan era have fallen flat. And that's all TV seems to care about, is hyping the league for the ratings.

NCAA Basketball: Now this is something that is electrifying during every March, and it would take a corpse behind the TV camera to diminish the excitement.

NCAA Football: Wake me up if my school's not playing or they improve on the Bowl Championship Series. A given game might be exciting, but the drama is diluted by the attempt to make every single bowl game "meaningful."

Tennis: Relatively small market share, but TV viewers benefit from recent advances in technology especially in/out calls. For those who doubt the power of television on any sport, note that during the awards ceremonies (most recently at Wimbledon), that the proceedings are halted unless the microphones are live for both Centre Court AND the television feed (during the Women's Singles Championship).

Golf: You might not like playing this sport, or prefer playing to watching it, but nothing is better than television to capture dramatic moments like Tiger's first win after his father passed away.

Formula 1: I'm not a huge fan of motor sports, but have followed F1 for the last year and a half. There is no way to keep track of any motor sport (on TV or in person) without the aid of a good television crew. I can't speak for NASCAR, but the Speed TV broadcasting crew are fantastic at showcasing the engineering brilliance, political intrigue and driver skill and fitness of F1. And in F1, much of the action takes place in the political intrigue. I managed to attend this year's U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis and experienced the best of both worlds: seeing the race live, with a gigantic video screen for the crowds, AND listening to a race broadcast radio for all the goings-on... and what the broadcasters say during the commercials may have been the best part. As for television and F1: the global audience is huge.

World Cup Soccer: Love it or hate it, the world-wide audience for the final matches absolutely dwarfs any Super Bowl viewership.

July 31 2006 at 8:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Preston

Bob, I think that individual-like sports like soccer and golf are what you don't like. Fishing is just a hobby, so who called it a sport. Auto racing is just driving in circles. Radio and TV sports host Jim Rome just doesn't like those sports on TV--he prefers contact sports like football, basketball and baseball. And golf had image problems for 5 years with John Daly's antics until Tiger Woods boosted its ratings back up in 1997. Half those people on those TV networks covering golf would have been jobless before then, because the ratings were so dead. And when ESPN canceled Top Rank Boxing from its 9 pm slot in the early 90s, that made me lose some interest in boxing. I looked forward to the matches, the upcoming newer boxers and the hand held cameramen (looked like they just got out of bed from the hotel just to shoot the bout--the rawness of the show) on the corners of the ring. They felt that the pay-per-view main events got more attention than watching it on free TV and the cable networks.

July 28 2006 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Heather

One word... darts. I was forced to watch the World Series of Darts last night. (And by forced, I mean in order to spend time with my husband I have to watch what he is watching.) For the first few minutes all I could think about was how darts is one of those things they need to really create "The Ocho" for. Absolutely, mind-numbingly boring. The most exciting (and I use the term loosely) thing about it was counting down the points along with them. I cringed everytime they had that close up shot of the winning spot on the board and the player MISSED... why is it not over YET!?!? Then to top it all off, they did slow-mo replays of the winning shot AND the winning players reaction. How this managed to avoid your list is beyond me.

However, it did see something on ESPN late one night that entertained me... can't exactly call it a sport, but it is a game... they televised the World Series of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now there's a scorcher. Again, the Ocho was brought to mind, but the clever and sarcastic commentary was worth not changing the channel.

July 28 2006 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thomas

The probably with people (mostly American people) who think Football (soccer) is boring are that they think the only exciting thing about a game is scoring. Some of the best bits in Football are defensive. A great save, a perfectly timed tackle to cut off someone who otherwise would have scored, a valiant clearance off the line. Maybe non-soccer liking Americans would also prefer it if each goal was worth 5 points or something?

And to say that Football goes on is bollocks. Barring extra time (which you only get in knock out cup competitions) a game last 2 hours and that's allowing for half time and any injury time at the end. American football (which I enjoy) takes many hours and has about 10 seconds of play at a time.

July 28 2006 at 3:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Franklin

Let's go over these one by one:

1. Fishing; Who calls this a sport, really? It's a freaking hobby for white guys who want to get away from their wives for a few hours.

2. Auto Racing; Just an excuse for rednecks to get together while sniffing gas fumes and getting bombed on Coors.

3. Soccer; Kick, kick, block, kick, head butt, kick, goal, hooligan riot. There, that's about it.

4. Golf; See #1.

5. Boxing; Been a snoozer ever since Mike Tyson turned Evander Holyfield into Vincent Van Gogh.

July 28 2006 at 11:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Adam Finley

"Bob, you let your personal opinions get the best of you on this one. These are YOUR favorite sports, not the Best/Worst for everyone."

That's exactly what "The Five" is supposed to be. The writer lists his or her faves and then you readers get to list your faves and tell the writer where they're wrong. :)

Anyway, I'm no fan of NASCAR, either, but as someone whose younger brother raced a stock car for several years, I can say that it's MUCH more exciting to see those races in person. Also, I think NASCAR fans typically have a favorite driver so they watch that particular driver to see how he does. That makes the race more exciting than just waiting to see who gets to the checkered flag first. Or so the NASCAR fans in my own family tell me.

July 28 2006 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James

LeMans series racing, SCCA racing and WRC are 3 automotive sports that don't suck on TV. Also the BTCA is pretty good.

July 28 2006 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SamMalone

Bob, you let your personal opinions get the best of you on this one. These are YOUR favorite sports, not the Best/Worst for everyone.

As someone pointed out yesterday, ratings indicate otherwise. Last week's NASCAR race was the most watched cable show of the week!

NFL and NASCAR are among the best sports on TV because competition is assured by the governing bodies. Salary caps, rule changes, and different regulations are used to keep any one team from dominating year to year. Several other sports like Baseball have failed to see this.

July 28 2006 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Borat

How does soccer seem to go on forever? The match lasts 2 hours at most!! It's sports like Golf, Baseball and Basketball which take up waaaaaaay too much time.

Granted, the World Cup final wasn't too exciting except for the headbutt, but did you watch the France versus Brazil semifinal? That was really exciting!

July 28 2006 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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