Professional Soccer Hailed As “Miracle Cure” For Insomnia
ATLANTA--Doctors across the country yesterday sung the praises of professional soccer as a revolutionary new way to cure insomnia. The announcement came on the heels of a yearlong study conducted by the American Medical Association on sleep disorders and possible new remedies. After experimenting with dozens of new medications and techniques, doctors stumbled on the new cure almost by accident.

Says Dr. Ben Mientowski: “Well, we had a few subject who were real tough cases. They wouldn’t respond to anything we tried. Real lost causes. We tried Ambien, Xanax. We even tried hypnosis, but to no avail. So one day we walk into the ‘sleep room’, and there they are, about a dozen of them, dead asleep. Some were even drooling on themselves. The soccer game was on TV, but we didn’t make the connection right away. We thought we had some kind of miracle on our hands. But after extensive testing, it was determined that the cause of the sudden turnaround was, in fact, soccer.”

The new miracle cure won't be much help to insomniacs outside the United States, where soccer is considered to be a very exciting, compelling sport. But here in the States, the game has roughly the same effect as a sledgehammer to the skull.

“American insomniacs have been given a gift from God,” says AMA president Dr. Sanjay Mehta. “There are a lot of very, very happy people today. These are people who never thought they’d sleep again and now, thanks to the game of soccer, their suffering has finally ended.”

One of the former insomniacs, Doug Gould, 38, of San Mateo, CA, describes the experience of that fateful day: “We were at the end of our ropes, the whole lot of us. I hadn’t had a wink of sleep in days, and some were even worse off than me. It just seemed like we were destined to be awake forever. While we were eating lunch one day someone put the TV on, and it was a soccer game. None of us had ever seen a soccer game before. Well, next thing I knew I was waking up hours later with my face in a plate of spaghetti. It was a miracle. Thank you professional soccer!”

Now that soccer has been officially recognized as a cure for insomnia, doctors are taking steps to make sure patients get their fill of the incredibly boring sport. A prescription of one game a day, every day, is recommended for serious cases until the problem subsides. But the problem of how and where to view so many games has yet to be addressed. Some have suggested satellite dishes so that sufferers will be able to view as many games as they want, and some have suggested that Major League Soccer donate tapes of past games so that sufferers can always have them on hand.

“Its not important that the games be live,” said Dr. Mehta. “These guys really wouldn’t know the difference anyway. Whether it’s a regular season game between the New York-New Jersey Metrostars and the DC United or a World Cup championship match, they aren't gonna be able to stay awake through it. So my suggestion is to have Major League Soccer provide hospitals with videotapes of games. Once we have the tapes, we can make as many copies as we want. It would be at a minimal expense to MLS, and it provides a valuable community service. It will be an act of mercy.”

MLS officials have mixed emotions about the new discovery.

“Um…we’re really happy that these people are no longer suffering from insomnia,” says William Mailer, league president. “We’re glad to be able to help. On the other hand, being known as a miracle cure for insomnia isn’t exactly what we’re shooting for, here. The upside is we’ll have a huge fan base among insomniacs, but the downside is most other Americans will probably avoid us like the plague. I suppose we can give them some videotapes, if that’s what they want.”

Like it or not, Major League Soccer has thousands of new, ravenous fans. Insomniacs around the country have propelled TV ratings to all time highs, and almost doubled the national fan base. Several insomniacs have publicity thanked the league for vastly improving their lives.

“MLS saved my life, pure and simple,” says teary eyed sufferer Charles Popovich of Terre Haute, IN. “I just wanna thank God for putting soccer into my life and saving me from my wretched existence. I have learned something that most Americans have yet to see: soccer truly is a wonderful sport. Thank you MLS”

League PR people are taking what they call a pragmatic approach to the situation. While shying away from the suggestion that their product is incredibly boring and sleep inducing, the league is taking steps to embrace its new fans.

“As you know, our fan base has almost doubled in the past few weeks. This insomnia thing has been a huge boon to the league. I mean, who gives a shit if they’re sleeping? As long as they’re tuned in to soccer games, that’s all that matters. We would love to invite the insomniacs of America to see a game in person at a discounted group rate. We’re prepared to bring hundreds of cots into the stadium to accommodate them.”

While doctors and patients alike are rejoicing at the groundbreaking discovery, some experts are warning against widespread use of soccer to treat sleep disorders.

“While soccer is a magnificent way to cure insomnia and most other sleeping disorders, it can also have an adverse affect on the mind for some people,” says Dr. Marvin Malemon, psychiatrist from New York City. “The game’s languid pace, tedious, repetitive nature, and crashingly dull tempo are a double edged sword. While it’s a definite sleep aid, soccer is not recommended for people with depression or anxiety disorders. For anyone who will be able to sit through an entire game, the effects could be damaging psychologically”

While Malmeon is totally supportive of the use of professional soccer to cure insomnia, he is pushing to have a warning statement read before every game that describes the potential side effects for people with psychological disorders. However, since doctors are not prepared to recommend soccer viewing for anyone other than sufferers of acute, severe insomnia, the warning label probably wont be necessary.

“This is for hard cases, that’s all,” says Mehta. “You don’t wanna prescribe soccer to just about anybody. Its just too risky.”
July 30, 2003
Volume 1 Issue 9
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