Posts Tagged ‘China’

Sanctimony Comes To Golf

June 11th, 2022 No comments


With all of the ongoing vexations occurring in the world today, the latest headline grabber comes from the sports world.  As we all know, the world of ‘sports’ has changed dramatically over the last few generations, evolving from earnest competitions among talented participants to become grossly commercial endeavours pitting billionaires vs billionaires and their stables of ponies.  Sports is big business and most everyone in the world is a fan of some kind of sports activity.

Worldwide, but especially in the US, sports is not a pastime of leisure, or of dilettantes.  It is serious business as virtually every college and university in America has a sports program that is the farm system for players hoping to turn professional.  None of these programs would exist if not for the monetization potential of any particular sport.  I suppose the javelin toss and hammer throw could be the exceptions.  They’ve yet to make the televising of throwing spears or iron balls appealing to the masses…. but maybe one day.

There is no question that money is the lifeblood for sports; we’ve become accustomed to eye popping sums offered to professional athletes based on their perceived ability to fill a stadium, draw TV viewership or hawk products.

One of the few sports to have escaped (somewhat) this crass commercialism was golf. Sure, the players wore logo’d shirts and hats, but the players were always portrayed as gentlemen whose goals were loftier than just the prize cheque for winning a tournament.  It was good enough to be recognized as good.  Or it was… until money started to drive the game, which began with Arnold Palmer and ultimately with the monetization of Tiger Woods.  As the game changed from the genteel sentiments of Bobby Jones to the present day “Nascar-ing” of the sport, money has become the dominant influence of the game.  Forget Titleist or Callaway, the number one driver in golf….is money.

The recent uproar in the genteel golf world laid bare this reality as an upstart league, the LIV tour, backed by wealthy Saudis, sought to lure top tier players away from the long established PGA tour by offering eye watering amounts of money to play in their tournaments.  To illustrate the lure, consider that Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest in the history of the game, won 18 major tournaments along with 82 regular victories.  His total earnings for his career amounts to just over 120 million dollars.  Dustin Johnson, with only a fraction of Wood’s success was offered 125 million dollars, just to come over to the new league. I’m not going to judge Johnson’s sense of allegiance or values, but we all know, he isn’t going to win 18 majors and 82 tournaments in his career.  The same is true for all of the other notable names that have elected to forgo the PGA brand for the LIV offering.  In other words, these athletes are doing what every other athlete does in any other sport, they go to the highest bidder.  Money has affected golf; what a shock!

Of course the other criticism levelled against the defecting players is that they are supporting a regime which has an abysmal record on human rights.  Not only that, but the Saudis are the source of nationals responsible for terror attacks on the US.  None of those accusations are unfounded.   But as in most narratives, there is the other side of the coin.  Nike, one of the biggest sponsors of players on the PGA tour, (and in fact all sports) manufacture most of their gear in China, a nation which pays as much attention to human rights as Italian drivers do to stop signs.

You could argue that the big money paid to elite athletes sponsored by Nike are in fact off the backs of suffering worker bees oppressed in China.  It’s somewhat akin to the superiority that drivers of electric cars feel over petrol drivers, even though their electricity is made from burning coal.  If we’re going to demonize nations for their repressive actions, that’s fair.  It’s also fair to then point out the repressions in all nations, including the US and Canada, oft considered paragons of liberty.

It’s fair to say that the past two years have seen the most repressive human rights agendas perpetrated by these very nations that most vocally protest the deeds of the Saudis.  As of this writing, Canada for example, has yet to allow all of its citizens from leaving the country. Certain parts of the US still force people to inject harmful products into their bodies in order to work.  Bank accounts are seized over actions critical to the governments.  I don’t expect PGA players to refuse cheques issued by sponsors in these countries.

Both arguments against the defecting players are hypocritical.  No one amongst us would pass on an offer of significantly higher income for doing the same thing.  That is illogical. If we expect these guys to play for the love of the sport, then people should also be expected to work because they love accounting.  As for the association with human rights thuggery; have a look around; objects are closer than they appear.


More Money Less Principles

October 15th, 2019 No comments

Source: LeBron James Faces Backlash Unseen Since ‘The Decision’ – The New York Times

That’s the thing with free speech in a free society; any idiot can say anything they want without concern for any repercussions from the state.  At least that’s the theory. What you don’t expect in a free society is that something that someone says, causes actions to be taken  by another state.  The recent furor over the events surrounding LeBron James, Daryl Morey, the NBA and China and the Hong Kong protests should make some issues very clear to those people ( and there are a lot ) not paying attention to the state of society.

The first issue is the very basic identity of what it means to be an American.  Freedom is the prototypical American trait; fought for by the original founders and enshrined in an hallowed constitution;  supported numerous times by the sacrifice of the nation’s own sons for other nations; and the reason that every aspiring immigrant yearns to become a citizen. legally or otherwise.  The only people who seem to take freedom for granted are the people who live there and have never been without it.  You would think that any American would hold this aspect of their society as sacrosanct and worth defending passionately.  It wasn’t that long ago that anyone seen to be undermining core American principles was viewed with great scorn and suspicion.  Just ask Jane Fonda.

The second issue is the corruption that seems to be the flip side of the coin of obscene wealth.  This is hardly new; it’s been a characteristic of society since they first started making them.  Someone always climbs to the top of a society’s pile. Kings, Robber Barons, Gangsters and Dictators have always wielded huge amounts of influence in a society and generally, the public fared poorly if they happened to get in the way of the powerful elite.  A few generations ago, the perceived dangers of having too much concentration of power in industry led to the breakup of AT&T, then the most powerful and dominant communications company in the world.

The rise of the recent generation of Internet based companies was supposed to be different.  The Internet companies today dwarves the size of AT&T at its peak and their influence today is truly global, not just national. Even as they dominate all aspects of culture and commerce, they stridently craft their public image as being socially responsible, or as they call it in today’s parlance, woke, a nod to their hippie roots.

As it turns out, the most powerful multinational companies in the world, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter as well as retail behemoths such as Nike and Starbucks are every bit as sinister in their commercial activities as their antecedents in the world domination racket.  It seems that warm fuzzy guiding principles which are framed in corporate hallways are less important than shareholder value.  When you consider the size of the Chinese market, it’s not hard to see why that nation’s sensibilities are at the front of corporate decision making. This is Animal Farm at the corporate level. At least the old Kings and Robber Barons didn’t pretend to be doing good things for the people.

The third issue is as important as the first two and that is the realization that entertainers are not cultural and political savants. They sing, they dance, they juggle and they run around throwing and catching balls.  In other words, they are well paid to entertain us doing children’s activities that we wish we could do for a living instead of pushing either paper or brooms.  As a group they are endowed with skills that others will pay them to perform.  They’re lottery winners.  But you wouldn’t heed someone’s opinions on geopolitics just because they happened to win a lottery!

Yet this is the delusion that many of them operate under today.  They think that a narrow physical skill set entitles them to pontificate on things that are clearly out of their intellectual plane. More often than not, their utterances are not well thought out, have little basis in reality and usually fail the simple test of logic. As in this recent case, they can be terribly confused philosophically. They are out of their intellectual depth.  It’s easy to pile onto James for his recent comments, but he’s not alone.  There’s a long undistinguished list of ‘celebrities’ who continue to embarrass themselves by their uninformed utterances.  All Lebron James did was to prove that they should just stick to running and dribbling a ball…no thinking required.  There are lots of geniuses who want to play ball for a living.  James plays ball and wants to be a genius.  Neither is likely.  At least here, in the bosom of a free society, he’s able to express his vapidity.  Too bad for Hong Kong.