Sports have been a part of human civilization ever since man went past the age of completing his usual chores and moved onto activities which gave him pleasure. Sport has been a platform for competition, for different societies to claim their superiority of mind, physique, strength, stamina and what not. Different sports have evolved differently over the generations to accommodate the changing needs, both physical and psychological, of the society.
But one factor by which a sport has always been judged has been its entertainment factor. The adrenaline rush and the excitement that a spectator derives from watching a sport is what defines its marketability. But sadly, a few of them have failed to adapt their rules and regulations according to the needs of the broadcast audience and spectators. Such sports are a nightmare to watch, especially if you are looking to kill some time. Their only takers seem to be either the people who play them or have somebody close playing it.
#10> TEST CRICKET
Test cricket on its average day can be dreadfully daft and painstakingly slow. After all, there’s no restriction to the balls you can play and the time you can waste in playing those balls. The bowler is happy to swing his arm over and be done with six deliveries and the batsmen is even happier to let most of them make their way to the man with the most boring job in the world, the wicket-keeper. Combine these characteristics with 13 soporifically dressed players, half of them half asleep in the slip-cordon, and you get 5 days of uninspiring and insipid duel in a placid atmosphere.
Put marathon runners on a machine with two tires, two handles and two peddles and you create a different sport with all the same ingredients. Although this time, you may get picturesque locations, a serene and green countryside or bamboozling mountain-ranges. Enough reasons to watch hundreds of bike-borne athletes ride their way in almost leisurely fashion? No, not quite. The only interesting part of a cycling tour is the fluctuating size of a peloton and how an over-ambitious and over-confident runaway leader always ends up losing steam in the final stages of the race.
The toned-down version of cricket, both in terms of skill and entertainment factor. Plus, they have 9 godforsaken innings. Yes, nine. They waste half their time in preparation of the next pitch, frivolous throws to other catchers and that long walk up to the mould, trying to intimidate the batter, or rather frustrate. The batters are an amateur lot, they don’t ever seem to gauge the trajectory of the ball, because either they miss or mishit. With so many catchers cramped into such a small field, the only option is that of a home-run, which in all probability is what we Indians call a tukka (freak shot). Plus, anybody bats anytime, pitches anytime and there’s always a guy swinging his bat needlessly in the sidelines.
And they go round and round and round and round. And there’s not even a choice of turns. Only left! Motorsports have traditionally been full of adrenaline-pumping speed, overtaking, accidents, sharp turns and long straights. NASCAR has managed to take each of these positive elements, twist it with its bare hands and turn auto-racing into an extremely monotonous and dumb showcase of 50-odd badly painted cars more focused on avoiding the crash-barriers than moving ahead. If you’ve ever wondered and doubted the magnitude of driving skill involved, think again. Think about concentration, patience and work ethic. Try doing 300 laps of a nearby roundabout and you’ll know.
Most of us must have played this game on a computer or a mobile device. But one doesn’t go and make a sport out of every mobile game. Stand in one place with a pencil-like thing in your hand, aim at a point on the wall and voila, you are a professional darts players. Try witnessing a darts game in a bar and you’ll come out wondering how much fitter you were compared to the player and how many more glasses of beer he had in your comparison during the course of the match. All a TV viewer sees is the alternating screens of a plump man, father of four, and a target board, straight out from the archery range.
Golf is the first word that comes to mind when you hear the words sports and boring together. Golf is the very definition of boredom. You can’t track a white ball in an almost white sky, the course isn’t much of a race track and you have to watch a different golfer after every single shot, chosen in any random order. They don’t run, unless there’s a loose dog in the greens; they simply stroll. There’s no excitement, you put a ball in the hole, take your cap off in return of a round of applause from an audience mostly comprising of Sunday golfers and their caddies. The only fun part is when the ball ends up in a pond or a bunker or gets lost in the woods.
Watching a bunch of athletes run around a city for hours together is the ultimate test of patience of the human mind. Taking nothing away from the athletes and their amazing fitness and endurance levels, marathons aren’t supposed to be a viewer sport. Let the athletes run and enjoy themselves, because there is simply no fun in watching others chase a distant red ribbon on the streets of a random city. It seems like a still photo being played again and again. And you can’t even expect the winner to celebrate, jump and dance after running his heart and lungs out.
#3> LAWN BOWLS
A sorry combination of snooker, bowling and boredom, lawn bowls was probably the product of the imagination of a frustrated soul who wanted to heap his misery on the rest of the world. Well, practically, lawn bowls isn’t much of a global sport and is restricted to the Great Britain and their personally created quadrennial events (read Commonwealth Games). The game is as difficult to figure out as it is to watch with willingness. There’s a target ball, two targeting balls which target the target the ball and don’t quite target it as they are not allowed to touch the target ball. Yeah, whatever.
For some people, chess isn’t even sport. But if the International Olympic Committee classifies it as sport, then chess is a legitimate choice on this list, because it can be a nightmare to watch. Playing chess is a different thing altogether, it can be quite engaging and interesting. But when it comes to watching two extremely nerdy and geeky (read boring) people, sitting on a coffee table, sucked into the game and wanting nothing but silence and concentration, it’s a big NO. So what does the audience do? Sit and watch the entire episode on a computer simulation, hands and chin together, trying to tune their mental faculties in resonance with those of the players. Move on.
This sport must have been a mistake. Putting two teams together and asking them to sweep a rock across the floor and then judging who swept better is not sport, surely not. If sports were ever classified as pure entertainment, curling would be the perfect irony. Where’s the fun in rolling a stone on an almost frictionless surface with two others quite aimlessly and amusingly scraping the surface with modified broomsticks, in the ambitious hopes of changing its velocity and direction.
Boring, but not boring enough to make the list:
Almost an entire half is wasted on silly fouls such as a foot-carry, foot-trap, stick-check etc. The game lacks continuity and rhythm. Plus we really feel for the players, who spend a good part of their life in a crouched position. Crooked vertebra and a crooked game.
First and foremost, there’s an 11 X 9 playing field. The only physical activity happens when the players bend their backs to take a shot. Else, it’s all stand and deliver. Trick-shot competitions are way more fun.
Run, aim, release. Strike, spare, gutter ball. That’s about it. Ever heard of a sport essentially made up of six words of English. Professional bowling can be worse, because all you see is strike, strike, strike. And yes, it’s just a ball, not a 3 months-old baby.