I Thought Golf Was Supposed To Be Fun

Over the weekend, I grazed through the channels on the TV and stopped to watch a bit of the golf tournament. After hearing about all the rain in Texas earlier in the week, I was wondering if the caddies were using pontoon boats and if the players needed flotation devices. They didn’t. But what I did notice as I watched the tournament come to its conclusion is that the folks playing in that PGA event didn’t seem to be having very much fun.

I have friends and relatives who love to play golf and who look for opportunities to schedule portions of their life in order to be able to play golf. When they speak of golf, they speak of it in terms of enjoyment and relaxation; they use a tone of voice that indicates that they had a good time while they played their rounds of golf. Looking at the “combatants” over the weekend, they looked as happy as the folks did on the Bataan Death March. I don’t get it.

The winner of that tournament was going to cash a check for about $1M; while that would certainly put pressure on the players to do well, every person who played on Sunday would get a check with at least five integers preceding the decimal point. For most of the previous week, these guys had to have been staying in a Crowne Plaza Hotel – since that was the sponsor of the tournament – and my guess is they got a rate that you and I would not get if we walked up to the counter unannounced. Local car dealerships gave them a courtesy car – as happens at just about every PGA stop along the way. So the only thing they were out of pocket for would be meals and “adult beverages” for a few days. And these guys were scowling and frowning and shaking their heads as if they just learned that they were being sued for everything they are worth? Sorry, I don’t get it…

Often, I am angry with athletes who need to read a prepared statement in order to “apologize” for some misdeed or to explain their side of some kind of controversy. My first reaction is usually that they should just step up to a microphone and say what a normal and civilized person ought to say under the circumstances. I now have a situation that explains why prepared statements are needed…

Recall that I told you about Elijah Dukes of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. After he allegedly threatened the life of his wife and his two children and she sought a restraining order to keep him away from her, his reaction was that he didn’t have time to talk about it, he had a video game to finish. Clearly, that’s not good. However, yesterday, Elijah Dukes stepped to a microphone to speak about the situation after having several days to cool down and to put things in perspective. I would have expected him to say that the safety of his wife and children is his paramount concern or that this was a time of family stress and that he was committed to making it work out constructively or that he really needed time out from under the microscope of the press in order to put his life – and the lives of his family – back in order. Those would have been nice things to say. But Elijah Dukes stepped to the microphone and said that he wanted to apologize to “the organization [the Devil Rays] for sticking with me in a situation like this.”

Say what? Later in a prepared statement, he said that he misspoke because he was nervous and then went on to say that he wanted to apologize to his family, and teammates and the organization for the distraction that this whole matter has created.” That’s a poor excuse for an apology – the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from prepared statements – but it beats what Dukes said on his own. Later he must have been asked if the booing of the fans bothered him, he said he couldn’t tell if they were saying “boo” or “Dukes”. That’s a funny line in the Peyton Manning/Master Card commercial when he tells the movers they aren’t booing they’re saying “mooo-vers”; it isn’t even close to humorous here.

I’ve not had a whole lot to say about the Michael Vick situation for the same reason that I tried not to comment on the infamous “Duke Lacrosse” situation while investigations were proceeding. The allegations here are pretty awful; the leaks of information to the press are pretty awful; the behaviors of the investigators/prosecutors are more than bit strange. This case has lots of similarities to the “Duke Lacrosse” fiasco.

The latest is that a court in Surry County, VA issued a warrant to search the property that Michael Vick used to own to search for as many as 30 dog carcasses that may be buried on the property; and since the warrant was obtained by the Virginian-Pilot, we know it also authorized a search of “all outbuildings which have blood covered wood floors or walls … [for] any and all evidence contributing to dog fighting and animal cruelty.” Now that’s pretty harsh indeed. But that warrant remains unexecuted supposedly because the prosecutor doesn’t like the wording in the warrant.

Folks, I get the sense that Inspector Clouseau would be an upgrade in terms of the investigation and case management processes here.

Also, over the weekend, there was a major pay-per-view event put on by Ultimate Fighting Championship. The main event lasted less than two minutes; now the debate is whether or not UFC is about to replace boxing as the “guilty pleasure” of sports fans. Since boxing has sunk to a level where it is almost indistinguishable from pro rasslin’ in terms of credibility, I’m not so sure that UFC shouldn’t aim higher on the sporting spectrum. Nevertheless, syndicated columnist Norman Chad put some of this in perspective recently:

“Here’s my problem with Ultimate Fighting. If nobody dies, how ultimate is it?”

Here’s a public service announcement for you. Tomorrow will be a Blue Moon; the moon will be full and the previous full moon was on 2 May. Now you have 24 hours to go and search your old music collection for that album by the Marcels…

Finally, Scott Ostler had this comment in the San Francisco Chronicle regarding the Michael Vick investigation:

“Innocent or guilty, all I know is that Vick is fetching his own pipe and slippers these days.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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