No Tiger; Golf Is In The Tank

When it became apparent after the US Open that Tiger Woods would play no more golf this year, I said that the TV execs who had prepaid for the broadcast rights for golf tournaments had to be despondent. Well, some data now exist to show that if they were not feeling badly then, they ought to be feeling badly by now.

    After the US Open, it would be logical to have expected Tiger Woods to play in the Buick Open because Buick is one of his major corporate sponsors. Compared to last year when Woods was on TV on Sunday, this year’s ratings were down 12%

    Since Tiger Woods is the motive force behind the AT&T Invitational and since the Tiger Woods Foundation is a beneficiary of sponsorships there, it would be logical that he would have played in this year’s event. He didn’t and on Sunday, the TV ratings were down more than 40%.

    Since the British Open is a major, it would be logical to have expected Tiger Woods to be in the field. He was not and Sunday TV ratings were down 15%.

The networks will continue to be hammered with low ratings and sponsors will express their displeasure over low ratings. There are really only two important golf events left on the calendar for the year; all those silly-assed skins games and manufactured events at the end of the golf season don’t amount to a modicum of moose mucous. I’d rather watch the World Snoring Championships. Important events to go this year are the PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. The network execs at CBS and NBC who have these properties have to hope for something to pull in viewers; the PGA has to hope that TV ratings for these major golf events stay above those of the XFL during its final days.

Perhaps TV ratings of 2.0 should be called the “Jesse Ventura Line” to honor the XFL color analyst on those ill-fated telecasts and when sports/events fall below that line consistently, they should be considered minor sports? Using that yardstick, only the British Open avoided the label “minor sport”…

As an aside, I’ve read in a couple of places that the US team, which has been trounced in Ryder Cup competition recently, will have no chance whatsoever with Tiger Woods on the disabled list. I went to check and according to the data I could find, Woods is 10-13-2 in Ryder Cup competition. If that is a “fatal blow” to the US team, maybe they should reduce their carbon footprint and just stay home.

Just as golf is having trouble generating interest in the absence of Tiger Woods, the NBA continues to struggle to regain the popularity it had during the Michael Jordan days – I mean the days in Chicago and not those final days in Washington. When the Bulls beat the Jazz in the NBA Finals in the 90s, the TV ratings were almost 19; this year the Celtics Lakers series drew 9.3 and the NBA was spinning that number to say it was up more than 50% from the Spurs/Cavs series last year. If you do the math, you’ll see that this year’s ratings were ALSO down a little over 50% from ten years ago…

By the way, when you go to the supermarket and see a Wheaties box with the champion Celtics on it, ask yourself what the Celtics eat for dinner because obviously they have Wheaties for breakfast and they had the Lakers for lunch and so …

I realize that the advent of free agency and salary caps and all that stuff has changed the dynamic of the NBA to the point where teams can rise and fall more quickly than they did in the past. However, the recent historical precedents for the Lakers are not all that good. The last time a team lost the NBA Finals and then came back to win the title the next year was in 1989 when the Detroit Pistons (Isiah Thomas, Bill Lambeer, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars et. al.) did it.

The Clippers are trying to regain a shred of relevancy in the LA market; acquiring Baron Davis was a positive move; losing Elton Brand was a negative move; obtaining Marcus Camby was just totally mysterious. Marcus Camby is not a great player by any means but he is an excellent defender – he has been Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA – and he is a solid citizen. The Clippers got him from the Nuggets in exchange for a swap of second round draft picks in 2010. Say what? The Nuggets didn’t even get a case of athlete’s foot medication?

I realize that Camby is 34 years old, that he has a big contract (about $20 M left to go), and that he has the offensive moves of an Easter Island statue. But that cannot possibly have been the best offer the Nuggets could have gotten for him. And that leaves the Nuggets with Kenyon Martin and Nene to play center. Let’s just say that “avoiding injury” has been a major hurdle for those folks throughout their careers. Denver played only token defense as a team last season; with Camby gone, who will play defense at all?

Here is another indicator of the gigantic problems facing horseracing in the US. Clearly, the newspaper industry is in a state of flux; downsizing and cost containment are the orders of the day there. Many papers have already cut back racing coverage to the point where race results and race entries are not included in the daily papers. Now the LA Times has announced, “…the handicap charts and results from Del Mar will not be included in the daily sports report.”

For those of you who are not racing aficionados, Del Mar is the west coast version of Saratoga; it is a race meeting that lasts only about 6 weeks and it highly prestigious. If Del Mar cannot make the cut and find its way onto the daily sports pages of the LA Times, it is hard to imagine that the paper will cover much of anything beyond pinnacle events such as the Triple Crown or the Breeders’ Cup. The announcement said that “major events” during the race meeting would be covered. Don’t be surprised if the words “for the moment” were edited out of that announcement.

Finally, here is an astute observation from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel regarding the Celtics win in the NBA Finals this year:

“I still can’t understand how Doc [Rivers] can win a championship in Boston with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen but couldn’t win one in Orlando with Gordan Giricek, Zaza Pachulia and Tyronn Lue. . . .”

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

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