It was when my wife caught me that I realised I had a problem.

The time was just after 1:00am. I was sitting there in the dark, in my bathrobe, unshaven, huddled over my desk and squinting at the low-quality video stream emanating from my glowing computer screen. The house was silent, as the wife and kids had long gone to bed. The audio on the computer was very low, of course, so as not to carry to any other parts of the house.

I had gone through considerable effort to find this video stream. After many Google searches, pop-up windows and dodgy application installations throughout the night, I had finally found this video — my holy grail of the evening.

So with a small fist pump of excitement, I settled into my chair. This was MY time. Nobody was going to interrupt me.

Nobody… except my wife, that is, who had suddenly appeared behind me.

“What ARE you watching there??!!” she exclaimed, rubbing her eyes wearily.

“Um…The Ryder Cup,” I offered sheepishly.

“Pfft,” she said, shaking her head in disapproval. “Why can’t you watch it on TV?”

“It’s not on,” I muttered angrily. “They’re showing a …REPEAT… of the Commonwealth Games  Opening Ceremony instead!”.

“It’s not on Foxtel?” she asked disinterestedly, not really caring about the answer.

“Nope,” said I, overdramatically. “100 channels of sports infomercials, rugby replays and dart throwing.”

“Oh,” she nodded in her usual ‘I-just-don’t-understand-this-obsession-with-golf’ manner, before going back to bed.

Looking back on it now, I see how ridiculous the whole thing was.  Not the fact that I was risking my sanity, sleep, job and marriage to watch live golf in the wee hours (heaven forbid!), but the fact that the single most important golf telecast of the year had been bumped in favour of what is likely the single LEAST important ‘sport’ telecast of the year.

Don’t get me wrong – I support our Commonwealth athletes all the way (well, maybe not the Rhythmic Gymnasts – I mean, it’s not really a sport now, is it?). But when you pre-empt an exciting, action-packed, nerve-wracking, high-stakes global golf contest in favour of a taped repeat of banal flag waving…well, I hope you see my point. It was a travesty.

I was surprised, to be honest. ONE and ONE HD had been brilliant of late.  I had felt like someone over there simply GETS it. They seemed to know what sport is about. They had raised the bar in Australia – showing us relevant and exciting sports, while the other channels like FoxSports show us Hotdog Eating Contests and National Spelling Bees.

Sure, I GET that the Ryder Cup final round was on a Monday (instead of the planned Sunday), and I GET that there was a lot of money paid for the Commonwealth Games rights, and I GET that Athletics have a larger fanbase than Golf (marginally). I even GET why the anti-siphoning laws are in place (kinda), but I don’t get why, with three channels available (ONE, ONE HD and Ten), they couldn’t squeeze the live golf onto at least one of them.

Instead, Channel 10/ONE HD severely let down the Australian golfing public, and wasted a perfect opportunity to make use of the much-touted digital channels.  It’s bad enough that Australians only get to see a total of about 12.3 seconds of live footage of Australian Pros every year, but c’mon Ten/ONE…throw us a bone. Golf is the highest participant sport in our nation. Higher, even, than flag waving.

I grew up watching a LOT of TV. It my babysitter. Like a brother I never had (sad, I know). And I really don’t want to see it go away. But with streaming video, Internet downloads, file sharing and things like Google TV coming soon, I can only wonder how much longer network television can survive. Some say it is already dead.

And that’s a problem.

So what can we do to ensure that this type of debacle never happens again?  I don’t know. What if we each posted a golf ball to the bigwigs at Channel 10. Not a new ball, mind you, but an old scuffed-up beater, circa 1970. (It will fit right in with their 1970s-style of golf TV programming.)

Until then, I guess I will continue to watch quality golf programming from the comfort of my computer chair.

Just don’t tell my wife.

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