Golf Is Not a
June 19, 2000
(Mark this date, Tiger)
Ugh. Tiger Woods just won
some golf thingie at Pebble Beach. I think it's called the U.S.
Open. Whatever. It's golf.
Problem is, Tiger won by
a lot, apparently. He won, uhm... big. Really big! So that makes
it some kind of deal.
I don't have a high opinion
of golf. I'm a moderately interested sports fan. So you can imagine
my pain when National Public Radio blasted some report in which
yahoo sportswriters from around the nation compared their latest
suckupboy du jour to athletes who've achieved significant
milestones. One of these losers said something like:
"What Tiger did yesterday,
you can only compare it to things like Don Larsen's perfect game
in the World Series. Or Steve Young's six touchdowns in the Super
Bowl. Or Mark Spitz's seven gold medals in the Olympics. But
the comparison doesn't really work -- Tiger did this on his own;
those guys had support."
First of all, you kinda
sorta kinda have to forgive sportswriters. They're often effective
with prose in a sharp but simile-dependent way. And when they
stray from their similes -- ("he's like Milwaukee's David
to New York's Goliath, people! The stadium's suddenly as quiet
as outer space, people!") -- they tend to stray into the
absurd. It's like, without "like" or "as"
inserted after every third or fourth word, these writers don't
know what to say. The above statement is a prime example. But
that's not my point.
Before I get to my point,
let me quote a golfer:
Paul Azinger, the 1993
PGA (snicker) champion, said, "Tiger Woods is probably the
greatest athlete in sports today -- in all of sports."
Sounds like Azinger is
a cracked with delusions of having something important to say.
He reportedly followed that sentence with "I'm still the
king of 1993, and Tiger will never take that away from me! Wee!"
More likely, Azinger's
is publicly surrendering -- with Tiger around, he'll never, ever
have a chance to be "champion" of his game again. (I
remember saying something similar when Ken started beating me
in badminton. The bastard.)
But again, this is not
Oh hell. Even as I write
this, some pansy-voiced guy -- the kind of dude who wears Polo,
rocks to Kenny G and watches the Golf Channel religiously --
has gotten on the air and is declaring effeminately, "Everyone
is talking about how Tiger is the Michael Jordan of golf? Well,
I think Tiger is the Michael Jordan of all sports? He's rockin'!"
not breathing hard,
showing off his fab physique
Tiger is not Don Larsen. Tiger is not Steve Young. Tiger is not
Tiger is certainly not
to be compared to Michael Jordan. So fuck off, caller.
Why? Tiger is not
Golf is not a sport.
Golf is a game. A sport can be a game, but a game is not
necessarily a sport.
Professional sports require sweat, baby. And movement. And skill.
And some sort of intelligence (or at least, an understanding
that makes people wonder how you do it). And you've got to mix
all of it together in one package. And you've got to be breathing
hard at the end of the game. And when you kiss that trophy, you
had better be panting hard enough to fog up the silver, and wet
enough to leave face prints.
Not that a game doesn't
require intelligence, or movement, or skill, or even sweat. But
a game rarely requires all of these qualities, and never
demands them all at the same time.
Poker requires intelligence
and skill, but not movement nor sweat. Freeze Tag requires movement
and sweat, but not skill nor intelligence. And golf? Golf requires
skill and movement, but not intelligence, and certainly not sweat.
Golf is just outdoor pool, and pool's a game, no matter what
Golfers never breathe hard
at the end of a game. Golfers only breathe hard when they walk
to the next hole. Pro golfers don't even carry their own clubs.
And when a golfer wins
a trophy or whatever, that trophy stays clean. Very indicative.
I hear the tiddley-winks championship trophy stays clean, too.
Oh hell, now some representative
for the Professional Golf Association (some dude named "Mitch")
is on the radio, saying, "I call it the god-given sport.
You don't have to be tall, short, strong, whatever. Anyone can
Yeah, right. Never mind
that it's one the most expensive games to play, and not a lot
of poor or middle-class people are roaming public courses or
private clubs. Real democratic, that golf.
Woods, not breathing hard,
not fogging up the silver,
not sweating up the trophy
One thing's true
-- you can blame anything about public perception on the media,
and you'd probably be right to do so. We only spout off about
what we "know," after all, and because the media feeds
us everything we "know" about current events in the
world, we often believe whatever stories the media wants to sell
Sportswriters and sportscasters
would have us believe golf is not only a sport, but a sport we
ought to pay attention to. And when that well runs dry, they'll
try convincing us a sport like rock climbing is something we
ought to watch for hours on end. Soon, we'll be loafing entire
weekends in front of the tube, our asses getting pimpley from
sitting in front of the tube as baseball leads into golf leads
into rock climbing.
"ABC's Wild World
of Sports will bring you rock-solid rock climbing! Dan 'Danger'
Davidson faces the up-and-coming challenger Rick Rachet in a
winner-take-all contest that will determine who. will. be. ranked...
NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD! This, right after this down-to-the-wire
golf game! You can't miss it -- world-class rock climbing! DYNAMIC!"
But I digress.
Anyway, many people recognize
that golf is not a sport, no matter what the sports pimps --
who manufacture "big stories" when there's nothing
really happening -- say. And even those who do call it a sport
often recognize that a pro golfer can't be compared to a pro
hockey, football or soccer player.
If you care about these
things, CNNSI.com (that's Sports Illustrated and CNN mishmashed
together) asked readers whether or not Tiger could be compared
to other sports heroes. The results were a pretty resounding
no -- he's a freakin' golfer."
Sometimes, I love people.
Tell Me if You've Heard
This One Before
(Hint: So What?)
Don't trust the media.
They're trying to sell you a story, and are more concerned that
you pay attention to their latest big headline rather than pick
up something of value from their work.
I used to listen to Jim Rome, a sports-radio personality. Back
in the day, before he went nationwide on big scale, he would
point out everything I've pointed out -- there's a difference
between pro sports and pro games, namely football and hockey
as compared to golf and car racing.
A couple years back, he
changed his tune, and now all he ever talks about is "what
a man" Tiger is. "Tiger is a man! Don't let anyone
tell you different!" Whatever. I guess when it's between
truth and cash, the American in us always wins out. (I wonder
if he still rips on racing, though.)
Tiger is a golfer.
Tiger is not an athelete.
Don't you dare compare
Tiger to Mark Spitz, who had to destroy his body everytime he
went for the gold. Or to Steve Young, who had to move, throw,
run, all the while avoiding people determined to stop him. Or
to Don Larsen, who creamed every batter as the world watched
on. These dudes competed head to head against other people working
hard to beat them -- and Tiger whacked a ball around the green.
Athletes compete against
themselves and other people. Golfers compete against themselves,
and have no real competition. That's the difference between a
game and a sport.
I'm so certain that Tiger's
not an athlete -- professional or otherwise -- that I'm 99 percent
sure I'd kick his ass in a mile run.
Yep, that's right. I'm
calling Tiger out. Now that's something to really woo about!
Lessee... the extent of
my running experience, Tiger, is comprised of stints on track
teams from the 6th grade to my sophomore year in high school.
(I quit after that because:
a) I wanted straight A's
b) I had a girlfriend (who dumped me soon after, dammit)
c) I hate running
But enough of my self-defense
Since then, I've basically
run a few months at a time, followed by a year or two of not
exercising at all. I'm now 28. As of this date, I've been running
for nearly four weeks, and I'm telling you Tiger, I'd kick your
ass in a mile race, and then some! You know why?
Because you're a golfer,
dude, raised to play a game, a nonsport . That means you half-assed
it in gym class (that's assuming you went to a normal school,
the kind with teachers and stuff), and when you ran the mile
for finals, you just walked or trudged, thinking to yourself,
"Let's see that fat-ass gym coach on the green!"
Get in touch -- we'll make
a media event out of it.
Nah, you won't. You'll
just ignore me because:
a) no one cares
b) I'd be pretty expensive to buy off
c) YOU CAN'T COMPETE!
Except one more thing --
if you had any kind of shame or decency, you'd announce to the
world that Steve Young would kick your ass in a fight, and that
you're nothing compared to him. The fact that you are even mentioned
in the same breath as Young ought to make you feel heady, lucky
and thankful that there's the sports media whores are hungry
for any kind of story. Okay, I'm done now.
who understands the irony of
writing about sports, as if
they really mattered.
June 19, 2000