Just last week, I wrote about Stephan Jaeger shooting a 58 on the Web.com golf tour. It was only the third round of its kind in pro golf history. Last weekend, Jim Furyk shot a 58 in a PGA event – the first time that has happened. Since “things happen in threes”, I think I will put an end to the suspense here and go out and play some golf.
I can shoot 58 for nine holes and we can then put all of this to rest.
Contrast that upbeat story related to golf with this less-than-rosy one. Nike announced last week that they were getting out of the golf business. Actually, that was a bit of an overstatement; Nike will discontinue making golf clubs, golf balls and golf bags; Nike will continue to make golf shoes and a somewhat curtailed line of golf apparel. The sport of golf is in decline; it hit a peak about 15 years ago and it is now definitely in decline.
There are surely economic and demographic factors that play into that decline in a highly significant way. I think that a contributing factor – not a major factor but not an inconsequential one either – is the way that the PGA and the TV networks tied themselves to the vast popularity of Tiger Woods. Ten or fifteen years ago, TV coverage of tournaments consisted of covering whatever Tiger Woods was doing at the moment notwithstanding whatever else was happening on the course. The PGA rode that horse to death to the point that it gave short shrift to other golfers who were also playing well and who could have developed a significant following if allowed to get some breathing room in “publicity space”.
Tiger Woods crashed – literally – and burned on the night that his ex-wife found out about his dalliances and rushed out to “save him” by crashing in the window of his car with a nine-iron after his car ran into a fire hydrant. He has not been the same competitor since then and now he is so absent from anything related to the PGA that there is a void when it comes to fan icons. The TV networks can move on from this situation simply by offering less money for future TV rights to anything other than the majors. The PGA, on the other hand, needs to roll up its sleeves and work to create a new set of icons for fans to follow.
In previous times, golf had Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player on the scene at the same time. The PGA did not “pick one” of them; the PGA reveled in the fact that all three had significant numbers of followers. The PGA had better get back to that mode of thinking quickly because if TV ratings for everything other than the majors continue to fall, golf will not only be in decline, golf will be in danger.
The Yankees announced that A-Rod will play his final game as a Yankee this week and will then remain part of the organization as a front office “special advisor” and as an instructor for the team. A-Rod is as polarizing a figure in baseball as Pete Rose is. He was clearly an outstanding player; he was also clearly a drug-cheat. He has been on the baseball scene for more than 2 decades; his performance on the field this year will make people remember that his career ended with a whimper; they ought not forget some of the great years that preceded this one. The Yankees made it clear that A-Rod’s player’s contract would be paid in full; he is owed the balance of the $21M he is to make for this season and another $21M for 2017.
The countdown can begin right now for the first column to appear arguing the merits of A-Rod’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame. May I please ask anyone so tempted to write one of those pieces to take a deep breath and wait for about 5 years when A-rod’s name will be on the Hall of Fame ballot to offer such opinions? We do not need 5 full years of that sort of rhetoric.
Fans of baseball teams that are “sellers” at the trade deadline can feel dejected about the way a season is going for their heroes and usually console themselves with the thought that the “prospects” the team got will make things right in the future. I would have to imagine that Yankees’ fans had to be doubly dejected to see the team as “sellers” this year given that the team started the season with a $228M payroll and this is not the sort of thing that is supposed to happen to a team spending that kind of money. Moreover, the same guys who assembled the roster that posted this “disappointing season” are the same ones who are selecting the “prospects” that they want from other teams in trades. Hmmm…
I watched a little bit of the Opening Ceremony in Rio last Friday night. Even my long-suffering wife who loves that sort of pageantry could not make it through the entire evening; she dozed off and then went to bed after about an hour and a half. We were not alone in our disinterest here; ratings for this Opening Ceremony were down 25% as compared to the Opening Ceremony in London in 2012.
I realize that NBC spent a ton of money to secure these TV rights and that they have to sell ads to make up that expenditure. Having said that, do you think it would have been possible for them to cram any more ads and/or self-promotional spots into their coverage? I think I would need an abacus to count the total number they had. And remember, it was all of a 1-hour tape delay.
Just for fun, here is an observation from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times from last weekend regarding the Rio Olympics:
The official birth control of the Rio Olympic Athletes Village is:
a) 450,000 Durex condoms
b) the Pokemon Go app
Last week, Brad Rock had a column in the Deseret News that I suggest you read in its entirety because I do not think that I can summarize it sufficiently. Some people have suggested that big-time football will see its demise because mothers will not allow their sons to play football due to the danger of head injuries; some people have suggested that big-time football will die because the excess money involved with the game will corrupt it to the core. I am not a soothsayer – and Brad Rock does not pretend to be – but he suggests a different danger that confronts big-time college football. It is worth your time to read this.
Finally, since I spoke about golf above, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald about golf:
“Hidden Valley Golf Course in Lincoln reported golf ball-sized hail. How confusing was this for golfer searching for their lost ball the next morning?
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………