Where Are The Golf Fans?

The TV ratings are in and they are not encouraging if you are an exec in the USGA.  It would appear that golf fans found other things to do last weekend instead of watching the US Open.  Ratings for Sunday’s final round were down 8% from last year and 28% from 2015.  The ratings from last Sunday were 3.5; to give you an idea, that is the lowest rating for a final round of a major tournament except for the 2015 British Open where the final round had to be postponed until Monday due to inclement weather.

If USGA execs want to put a positive spin on all of this, perhaps then can convince themselves that the folks missing from the TV sets were out on the links playing a round of golf…

CBSSports.com had a report recently about a new legal instrument called a CAP Agreement which is characterized as a replacement for a National Letter of Intent by college athletes and which represents a “legally binding contract between a college prospect and his school”.  I am not going to pretend to understand the legal stature of this new instrument but here is the link to the report at CBSSports.com that will give you an overview.

There is one quote in the report that is pretty much a malaprop.  The Executive Director of the National College Players Association said this about the new CAP Agreement:

“We think this will change things.  This will be a good place to start. It opens Pandora’s Box.”

The problem with that statement is that in Greek mythology, Pandora’s box contained all the evils of the world and that they only escaped to exist in the world after Pandora opened the box.  I suspect that the National College Players Association would prefer not to release legal evils upon the players themselves with the new CAP Agreement.

There were a couple of trades earlier this week in the NBA as teams prepped for the upcoming draft.  Trades on draft day are commonplace in the NBA so there is likely more to come on that front but here are some thoughts on the trades that went down:

  1. Lakers trade D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for Brooke Lopez and the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft.  The Lakers win this trade by default.  Russell is talented but his tenure in LA has been tumultuous to say the least and Mozgov was next to useless for the Lakers despite signing him to a big free agent contract last year.  This trade rids them of what they perceive as a “problem child” and of a “bloated contract” in exchange for a mediocre center and a third first round pick in this year’s draft.  The Lakers now have picks #2, 27 and 28 in tonight’s draft and that might presage another trade coming up.  Meanwhile, the Nets just stink and the addition of Russell and Mozgov will not change that very much.
  2. Hawks trade Dwight Howard and the #31 pick in this year’s draft to the Hornets for Miles Plumlee, Marco Belinelli and the #41 pick in this year’s draft.  Howard is a good defensive player and rebounder; his offensive skills seem to be eroding at age 31.  When the Hawks were eliminated in the playoffs this year, Howard was benched in the 4th quarter of a couple of those games.  The Hawks got a bit younger with this trade but neither Plumlee nor Belinelli can be considered “centerpiece players”.  On the assumption that the Hornets are not going to ask Howard to do a lot offensively, I guess they win this trade by a slim margin.

More interesting than these two actual trades are the trade rumors running amok now.  Players with significant skills and with wide name recognition are mentioned in the rumors to include:

  • Jimmy Butler
  • Paul George
  • Kyrie Irving
  • Kevin Love
  • Kristaps Porzingis

I certainly do not expect all of those players to be moved in the next few days but playing with them as chess pieces as teams seek to catch up to the Warriors makes for some interesting mental exercises.  Interestingly, in the midst of all this “intrigue” the Cavaliers found time to fire their GM, David Griffin.  [Aside:  Many people believe that LeBron James is the de facto GM for the Cavs so perhaps this is not such a big deal.]  What it does show, however is that Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, is not a man of patience and long-range vision.  Gilbert has owned the Cavs for 12 years; in that time, he has had 4 GMs and is about to hire a 5th.  Given that the team has been in plenty of playoff series and has won a championship, that seems like a lot of front office turmoil to me.

The other part of this saga that I find interesting is that – according to an ESPN.com report – Gilbert refused in the past couple of months to grant the Magic and the Hawks permission to talk with David Griffin about executive positions with those teams.  Now, with jobs filled, he decides to fire Griffin.  Here is the link to the ESPN.com report on this firing.  It provides a peek behind the curtain regarding some of the inner workings of one NBA franchise.

Finally, since I began today with disheartening news regarding the TV ratings for the US Open, let me close with this comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald regarding a way to “goose those ratings”:

“In Anchorage, Alaska, a bear chased some golfers on the course. If more golfers were chased by bears, TV ratings for golf would double.”

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