Casual Fridays returns: Politics versus sports!

I've been dragging for the last few days -- I just can't seem to resist watching the latest speeches from the Republican National Convention. I was similarly distracted by the Democratic Convention last week. It's affected my sleep habits: I got 1 to 2 hours less sleep than normal each night I stayed up to watch the politicians pontificate.

Greta, on the other hand, is content to watch the wrap-up coverage on the news the next morning while she works out on the treadmill. But even Greta couldn't resist the temptation of another recent event: the Olympic Games in Beijing. For the first week of the games, she and I stayed up an extra two hours every night, just to see if Michael Phelps would win another medal or the Chinese diving team would attain perfection. By the second week of the games, Greta returned to her normal sleep schedule, but I continued staying up late until the games were over.

This got us to wondering -- do people get more distracted by sports, or by politics? Or is the sort of person who's likely to let the Olympics mess up their sleeping schedule also likely to stay up late for politics? This week's Casual Fridays study will explore just that question.

Click here to participate

As usual, there are only a few questions, which will take you less than five minutes to complete. You'll have until Thursday, September 11, to answer. There is no limit on the number of responses. Don't forget to check in next week to see the results!

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I didn't watch Obama or Hill live, just on the internet the next day. I watched the whole speech though, so I put "didn't lose any sleep" because it was closest to what happened.

You'll probably want to ask a question about partisanship also. There is a difference between being willing to lose sleep for one's own convention and just general interest in politics.

Good question -- I stayed up late to watch the Olympics and both conventions too! But what I'm actually more interested in figuring out -- rather than the matter of coping with lack of sleep from the "one-off" events of the conventions -- is how I'm going to cope with the day-to-day psychological strain of the election for the next 59 days.

I'm an independent voter who will be supporting Obama in November, but I work in a strongly partisan Republican office, and all the talk surrounding me is really getting under my skin. The hypocrisy of all these people talking about McCain bringing change to Washington (never mind that he's BEEN in Washington for 25 years and is promoting many of Bush's same policies) --- or to take another example, they're all thrilled by Sarah Palin's "commitment to life," never mind that her "commitment" doesn't extend to polar bears or wolves, or other human beings who've been sentenced to the death penalty.

I know, this probably sounds like a petty complaint, and frankly I'm not even a very politically-focused person, but I find that I'm tense all the time now in the office, and more tired as a result when I go home at night. Although I'm trying to see things from my colleagues' points of view, I'm having a hard time maintaining respect for people who - sorry to say - just seem like mindless hypocrites to me these days.

Any advice you could pass along, as someone with some psychological expertise, would be very helpful. Thanks!

You're forgetting about those of us who couldn't care less about either politicians or Olympics but who regularly stay up to catch a football/hockey game, or who stay up for the playoffs in ANY sport. The olympics are NOT the only sports out there. Granting presidential elections AND the Olympics happen every four years, political maneuvering happens for far more than three weeks so for someone paying attention to politics you've a better comparison with a full-season sport.

Since I was most interested in basketball, I ended up having to get up early most of the Olympics instead of staying up late. Although starting the Gold Medal game at 1:30 CDT was just cruel to American fans.

No contest; Olympics this year was some of the best television competition I've seen. In fact, it was one of those rare times where our whole family sat in one room (a rare feat) and watched together. And, other sports are watched far more in our house than politics.
Besides, missing the convention speech is no biggie. They'll be giving the same speech many more times before November.

I lost a lot of sleep watching Obama's speech, but then again I recorded it on my DVR and watched it, like, 5 times. It was awesome.

You are probably aware of this, but the timing of how things were televised here on the West Coast of the US was quite different from other parts of the country. For us, the speeches from the conventions were on at 7 pm, so no problems with watching everything and still getting a good night's sleep. But the Olympics were presented to us the way they were on the East Coast (broadcasting between 8 pm and 1 am), even though we were 3 hours behind the East Coast and watching things that had often happened 15 hours earlier. So I'm not sure that your questions about sleep measure my relative interest in either, just the vagaries of network programming.

For the record, I watched both the conventions and the Olympics....

By Melanie Johnson (not verified) on 07 Sep 2008 #permalink

You're right, Melanie, the best comparison probably comes from viewers from the U.S. East coast. Fortunately we've got a lot of readers in this time zone, so I think we'll have some good data. I think there will be some other interesting analysis that we can apply to responses from around the world.

Maybe I shouldn't have even responded, because we don't have a TV at home - although I could have stayed up late to *listen* to the speeches on the radio. And I was able to watch some of the first week of the Olympics, because we were on the road on vacation, so watched on hotel TVs. But I suppose my answers are acceptable, because even if I'd had TV access during the conventions, I wouldn't have watched political speeches - I just get too annoyed by it all, and talk back to the TV, and get all grouchy...

I care about politics, but since I'm not American, I don't feel the need to watch the speeches for US elections.

And I *don't* care about sports, except the olympics, which
I love. So you won't be able to draw much of a conclusion from the data if there are very many people like me. (Also, I actually took the second week of the Olympics off from work -- vacation specifically booked in order to watch the Olympics all day and night. So I didn't actually lose any sleep on worknights that second week.)

I live in NYC, and the Olympics ended at 1 or even 2 am. I tend to go to bed around 1 regularly, but the Olympics (both weeks) definitely skewed my sleeping schedule. The convention speeches were over by 11:30 at the latest. So those didn't affect my sleeping schedule at all, even though I watched all four speeches in your survey. I wouldn't have stayed up till 2 am to watch speeches, but I definitely did for the Olympics. I'm not sure this survey will accurately reflect politics vs. sports in this case, because the broadcast schedules were not the same.