All sports fans know the feeling. You come home, plop on the couch, and turn on Sportscenter to see the highlights of the day's games.
A few baseball highlights, some interesting news. And then, inevitability, ESPN puts something on that makes you stand up and say, "why I am watching this?"
It's not necessarily a sport that you don't like. NASCAR, golf, tennis and boxing all have their haters, but it's understandable that each would be covered by "The Worldwide Leader."
These are the events that are just pointless. Events that are dull to watch and relatively meaningless, but yet are fed into your living room for hours on end.
There's a few that may come to mind immediately, but actually have some redeeming qualities.
The World Baseball Classic, for example, is a bit overhyped. But with baseball no longer at the Olympics, it's an interesting way for countries to compete with each other in a sport that is gaining international popularity.
The College Football Championship Series playoffs get too much play as well. But it serves as a nice yearly reminder of just how well a playoff system in major college football would work.
The yearly Hockey World Championships are a completely worthless event, and is usually won by the country lucky enough to have all their best players miss the NHL playoffs. But one of the few positives of ESPN's awful hockey coverage is that Americans get to miss out on this brilliant competition. Canadians, on the other hand, get to deal with the pointlessness every year. Aren't the Olympics enough?
The MLS is filled with atrocious, almost-unwatchable soccer. However, this misses the list for one reason: You have to give American MLS fans credit. They are such big fans of the sport that they can enjoy watching AA soccer on a weekly basis. That deserves respect.
Even some European soccer leagues fall into the category of pointless, particularly Spain's La Liga. Everyone knows it's going to come down to Real Madrid and Barcelona. It would probably be more interesting just to watch those two squads play a seven-game total-goals series or something to that effect. However, few in America (or on ESPN) actually care about this league, and those two teams have not always dominated La Liga—just this most recent period.
The WNBA also nearly made the list, but they get beat up on enough.
Expanding the NCAA tournament to 96 teams would have been an incredibly foolish decision, and luckily it was averted.
However, the one positive of such a decision would have the implicit destruction of the NIT.
The NIT actually predates the NCAA Tournament by one year, and was not always the meaningless battle of mediocre squads that it is today.
But that doesn't make the modern day competition any less unwatchable.
Essentially, the tournament gets filled with all the teams that just missed out on the Big Dance. It's a consolation bracket. Which would be fine, if it wasn't for the fact that ESPN covers the NIT religiously.
ESPN has an exclusive 10-year, $24.1 million contract with the NIT. And the NIT gets every penny out of that relationship.
Every game gets a blurb on Sportscenter. During March Madness, every other advertisement on the network is championing another "fantastic matchup" of two 18-14 squads.
Even fans of the teams that win the tournament really do not care that much. Not much bragging rights exist for being the best of the mediocre.
Only teams that have spent their histories in obscurity actually care about doing well in the NIT, as it is their first chance at national success.
But since the NIT likes ratings and attendance, they tend to give most of the bids to great programs experiencing down seasons. It just makes a bad competition even worse.
After NASCAR came up with their "Chase for the Cup" playoff system, the PGA Tour felt the need to respond with a playoff system of their own.
Thus, the FedEx Cup was born.
This was just an awful idea from the start. Championships are for team sports. Individual sports like golf and tennis are governed by two basic means of judging players: majors and world rankings.
NASCAR, while at first glance may seem an individual sport, is actually more of a team sport after taking into account the crews, engine builders and team owners. But the PGA Tour, desperate for attention, tried to create a championship of its own, despite the fact that there is no historical precedent for golf having an end-of-season title.
Golfers don't take it seriously. Jim Furyk missed the first event of the FedEx Cup because he overslept past his tee time.
Now, he surely didn't intentionally miss the event. But do you really think he would have missed the beginning of the British Open? How about The Masters?
Despite its obvious pointlessness and lack of prestige, ESPN continues to promote it as a legitimate championship. Standings are posted regularly, and this weekend's event was given about as much coverage as a Tiger-less major.
Who won last year's FedEx Cup? Tiger Woods. Think he would have traded it for a 2009 victory at a major?
I think he might have.
This event, needless to say, inspired the slideshow.
The FIBA World Championships are hosted once every four years. They supposedly decide the best basketball team in the world.
However, it has been completely and totally upstaged by the Olympics. The 1992 Dream Team was one of the greatest collections of basketball talent in history. The 2004 U.S. performance was a national disgrace, and the 2008 "Redeem Team" was an intriguing story.
The World Championships, on the other hand, are a joke.
While some NBA superstars have turned down the chance to play in the Games, the Olympic teams have generally been filled with world-class talent.
For most of those same superstars, however, an invite to the World Championships is taken about as seriously as a random invite to the prom by a star-struck high-school senior.
Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade? All no-shows at this year's competition. Kevin Durant is the only U.S. superstar that had the decency to attend.
This wouldn't be a big deal, if it wasn't for the fact that the sports media acts like the World Championships are on the same level as the Olympics.
It's consistently the top story on SI.com. ESPN has devoted entire segments to discussing the roster.
If the U.S. wins? Great.
If not? Who cares?
Any competition that claims to be a "world" competition but lacks the best players in the world is a waste of time.
It hurts to have to attack the College World Series. Just a bunch of young kids, not getting paid, playing for the love of the game...
Oh, wait. There's already the Little League World Series for all that. Never mind then.
There's really not a big issue with the College World Series on paper. It's a legitimate collegiate sport, the best players end up on major-league rosters, and the teams should get the chance to decide a true champion on the field.
The problem is the amount of coverage it receives on ESPN.
During the regular season, no one on television cares about college baseball. No highlights, no storylines, and certainly no games.
But once June rolls around, surprise! It's time for "The Road to Omaha." Could they have the championship in a more boring place?
So ESPN takes a sport that its done nothing to promote throughout the season, and then expects people to actually want to watch the championship rounds. And of course, since the programming is on ESPN, that necessitates its repeated highlights on Sportscenter.
The CWS can be moderately entertaining if your favorite MLB team just drafted a guy who went to Rice, and you want to watch him before he goes to the Minors.
But the games themselves? It's hard to care about a sport that no one follows.
And now, the most over-hyped event in sports.
The NFL preseason has its positives, of course. Fans get to see their team's recent draft picks. Position battles are fun to watch, on occasion.
The problem is, the preseason is taken way too seriously, when it's really just a cash cow for the owners.
First, the quality of play is awful. Veterans are not in rhythm, rookies don't know the offense, and the entire second half is essentially a comedy of errors as fourth-stringers desperately try to do something out of the ordinary to impress the coach.
The other major sports have preseasons, too. But the NHL and NBA preseasons get little-to-no press. Baseball Spring Training games occur far away from teams' home ballparks. At least soccer's version of preseason (friendly matches) often takes clubs around the world, playing for fans that would otherwise never get to witness their favorite players in person.
American football? We put on our preseason games in prime time.
And the worst part? People watch it.
The 2010 NFL preseason opener had better ratings than a Yankees-Red Sox game on at the same time.
Fans in Philadelphia are currently engulfing talk radio with complaints regarding the Eagles' red-zone ineptitude. During preseason games. When starters play one half at most. When coaches aren't even using the entire playbook.
When it comes to preseason, true fans just pray that no impact player suffers a season-ending injury before the year begins.
But owners love the preseason. They get to charge season-ticket holders full price for two meaningless games.
It's a travesty.