If you're the type of sports fan (like we all are) that purely enjoys the competition - seeing people compete against each other and go through the stories, twists and turns - you probably will have found yourself in a similar situation to this.
Flicking through channels, you stumble on some golf, you stumble on Tiger Woods in the midst of a hot streak. Or if it's that time of year, you wake up through the winter holidays to catch some of the Tour de France and Lance Armstrong is leading the pack. You stop flicking, you pause, get comfy and enjoy the show.
We all have our favourite sports, then there are those sports that you need a slight bit of convincing to watch. The very best at the peak of the powers go someway to convincing you, but you're easily sold when it's a once in a generation mix of personality, talent, some sort of mystical presence - the complete package that puts that athlete above everyone else. Ever since the demise of Armstrong and Woods, I've lost touch mainly because there's just no one who captures the imagination like they did.
I'll start with Armstrong, who obviously cheated his way to the top. I won't bore you with the 'they were all on some sort of performance enhancing drug' jibber jabber. In a sport where most of the athletes are cheating somehow, Armstrong was the very best. He was the person who ensured that I learned what a 'peloton' was, he gave me motivation to learn more about cycling and the difference between the hill climbers and sprinters, etc. My cycling knowledge is largely thanks to Armstrong.
Same with Tiger Woods. Golf is golf, it's always been on TV and it's pretty hard to ignore it. But Woods gave me a reason to dive deeper, learn about the game and invest some effort into finding out what made it such a high level sport. With Woods, his impact on not only golf but society was immense. He changed golf. No if, ands or buts about it.
From all accounts, both were difficult men to get along with. Armstrong was a bully, while Woods didn't appear to have much time for anyone else. This added to them being placed above everyone else, they had this aura, this presence that was unmatched. In a sense they had earned the right to be dicks.
Now, I don't watch golf nor do I watch cycling. I mean I like golf, I've been known to hit the odd shot straight down the middle of the fairway and who doesn't ride a bike? But no one excites me - Rory McIlroy is good, but meh. He doesn't grab you and demand that you watch him put on a show. Throw in the fact that golf is a pretty privileged sport that takes some serious financial backing to be successful doesn't help. I'm much less a cycling fan than a golf fan, so I was holding on by my fingertips before Armstrong's career fell away ... then I fell off. I'd much rather see what Armstrong's up to these days, whether it's mountain biking or Oprah, instead of catch up on the latest in international cycling.
I'm not saying I like Woods and Armstrong, but they made you watch. Weirdly, they both got flushed down the toilet around the same time.
Now? I just don't watch. Compared to tennis where I can either watch Serena Williams do her thing on the ladies side or I can take my pick from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Of course, how could I forget, there are young hip golfers coming through! But nah, still not enough to draw me in. Just cos Rickie Fowler wears a funky coloured cap and pulls hot birds, doesn't make him a draw card. I'm talking about the type of character who thinks of themselves in a mythical sense, demanding that you put them in that category as well. The arrogance, the skill, the brashness, the don't-fuck-with-me type of vibe is nowhere. I'm sure golf fans and cycling fans will tell me all about this joker or that joker who's doing this and that, but chill, there's a reason why I haven't heard of them.
Which is kinda sad, because in today's age sports is super competitive. The PGA is competing with the NBA, NFL, MLB and any other sports league, shit even the MLS. Same with cycling. They're all competing for your eyes, advertising dollars and action but there's no one to draw you in. There's no one grabbing you by the balls/hand and telling you "watch me, I'm gonna put on a show and you're gonna tell anyone and everyone because you loved it and you love me ... or you hate me but I don't care cos I'm amazing."