In my defence I could point to the fact that I had never actually heard of old Eugene until he and his mortal coil severed their long-standing connection at the Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Illinois, last May, but I've felt deeply sorry about my lack of proper respect ever since.
Sunday, though, brought the chance to honour his memory in appropriate fashion. Polley, as I'm sure you already know, was the inventor of the TV zapper, a device much maligned by pinch-featured puritans everywhere but hailed as the zenith of liberating technology for those who believe that channel-hopping is an activity best performed in a horizontal position with a glass of cold beer to hand.
Which is pretty much the posture I had slipped into on Sunday evening. In mitigation, I could point out that an afternoon spent witnessing the football artistry of the Edinburgh derby at Easter Road had left my faculties all a-whirl and that I needed a good lie-down, but I suspect that only the most gullible of juries would buy that one. Fact is, Sunday evening was one of those occasions when Eugene's brainchild was always likely to come into its own.
There, on BBC1, was the Olympics closing ceremony. Normally, I would run a mile – well, shuffle into the next room to least – to avoid such arrant nonsense, but the witty brilliance of Danny Boyle's curtain-raiser a couple of weeks earlier, coupled with the promise of a celebration of the best of British music from the past 50 years, shook me out of my default setting of Melrdrewesque cynicism and persuaded me it might actually be worth watching for once.
But there, on Sky Sports 1, was the final round of the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. Now the year's fourth and final major is the poor relation of the other three as far as most golf fans are concerned, but it has a convenient habit of delivering fantastic finishes as well. Granted, it has a rather less convenient habit of dishing up nobby-nobody winners with names like Humbert Schlumpfeiffer III, but the 54-hole leaderboard at the Ocean Course showed Rory McIlroy three shots ahead and a fascinating final round lay in store.
So what was it to be? Decisions, decisions.
Or not, in this post-Eugene zappers' heaven where you really can have your cake and eat it. As the evening unfolded, I was zap-zapping for all I was worth, ducking out of those lengthy, golf-free passages when Sky's admirable presenters are at the mercy of their US hosts' commercial breaks, diving back to the sports channel at the first strains of anything that sounded like portentous pomp-rock (not that I've got anything against Brian May on a personal basis, you'll understand).
At the end, I reckoned the musical pageant probably merited a pass mark, the showmanship of Jessie J and the raw power of Pete Townshend's chords at the opening of Baba O'Riley offsetting the organisers shameful omission of Roy Harper and Richard Thompson (live in Edinburgh tonight folks!) from the cast list. But there was an unsettling sense of woodenness about the musical smorgasbord, which is something you would never have said about the performance young Rory was putting on in South Carolina.
It had been suggested by some rather silly commentators that McIlroy had shot his bolt after last year's astonishing performances at the Masters and the US Open. The theory was that he had lost his hunger, that he would rather look lovingly into the eyes of Caroline Wozniacki by candlelight than stare down his on-course rivals in the heat of major championship battle. The hypothesis held good in the sense that McIlroy himself had admitted that he took a little time to come to terms with his victory at the US Open in 2011, but it overlooked the fact he still happened to be the most naturally gifted golfer on earth right now.
McIlroy is 23 years and three months old. Tiger Woods was 23 years and eight months old when he secured his second major title, the 1999 PGA Championship. As Woods' PGA Tour career earnings are now just $225,000 short of $100m we should probably not rush to draw comparisons, but McIlroy is on a pretty promising trajectory right now.
Sure, he missed a few cuts in a most un-Woods-like manner earlier this year, and there is a suspicion that his attention drifts when he drops out of contention. But let's not get too censorious on this one. In World Golf Championship strokeplay tournaments – which, lacking the quirks that give the majors their character, are arguably a better test of competitive worth – McIlroy has had top-10 finishes in eight of his last nine tournaments. Only Woods, who used to win them for fun, has ever had a record like that.
Yesterday's updated world golf rankings confirmed that McIlroy is now the best player on earth. On form, he is simply uncatchable. His two major wins have both been achieved by margins of eight shots.
With all due respect to dear old Eugene, why would you ever want to change channels when the Northern Irishman is putting on shows like these?