Posts Tagged ‘nike’

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.


Tiger Woods Is So, So, So Much Bigger Than Golf

December 21st, 2009 No comments

link Matthew DeBord: Tiger Woods Is So, So, So Much Bigger Than Golf

As if. So much ink has been spilled on the recently exposed adventures of Eldrick Woods that I’ve avoided adding any more to the pool of opinions out in Lake Tsk Tsk. This piece however, begs to be exposed as hyperbole of the worst kind:

“…But I will talk about golf. Specifically, the delusional notion, put forward by many pros, commentators, experts, and pundits, that the game is bigger than Tiger and will survive, recover, thrive. Um, no. The game is in no way bigger than Tiger. In fact, Tiger is so immensely, hugely, ginormously larger than mere golf that golf may never recover from this monumental fall from grace….”

Cue to stop laughing. A few clicks on google will show that there have been purported instances of golf since 1750 and some even claim as far back as 1450. Certainly, in the 1860’s in Scotland, Old Tom Morris (not to be confused with young Tom, differentiated by beard length ) was the Tiger of his time; minus the sponsors but arguably sartorially superior. Any real fan of golf will know the names of Vardon, Sarazen, Jones, Nelson and of course in recent times, the great Palmer and Nicklaus. Now I’m not saying this kid Tiger has no talent, but despite the Golf Channel’s MTVish spin on it, Tiger was not responsible for the popularity of golf, the related golf course development industry, the charity associations or the ongoing interest of addicted men (mostly) to the game. We cannot deny Tiger’s influence on purse sizes and no doubt, this will be affected in the short term, but golf was fine as a pursuit before Tiger made it “cool” and will continue to be so in the years to come. Middle aged men don’t care about cool. Has anyone noticed some of the pants they wear, some of which resemble eye tests and bring on nausea if stared at for too long?

The emergence of Tiger’s dominance of the game combined with the genius of Nike recognizing this talent at an early age has pushed the game of golf into the realm of everyman…and this was not the case before. If fact, this may not even be desirable. I think the author of the article really means that marketing ICON Tiger Woods is at jeopardy, not the game of golf. Using anecdotal evidence based on that dependable source, namely me, most golf shops and pro shops will tell you that traditional golf equipment suppliers still command the spending of real golfers. Nike has certainly made inroads into the equipment business, but most pros, given their own choice stick with Titleist, Callaway or Taylor Made, the established gear makers. The area where Nike cleans up with Tiger are shoes and apparel. This is the youth market that Nike really wants and Tiger’s popularity was key to their sales to this constituency. Ironically, Tiger’s attire on course was downright dull.

The author goes on to say:

“….I’ve seen Tiger Woods stride a golf course and strike golf balls several times, and it was a special thing. He did outshine the myriads though bright. A frightening yet seductive luminosity emanated from the guy….”

What is he? Chris Matthews describing the president?

Again, there can be no doubt as to Tiger’s golf accomplishments, because many have been truly memorable especially in the heat of competition. But during these times in which we live, where every move is replayed, analyzed and broadcast again and again with reverential description by all manner of media types has contributed as much to the legend as the deeds themselves. Old Tom probably only had his competitors, a few fans and a phalanx of sheep herders in which to pass on his golfing genius. Even then, after the last pint was finished at the pub afterwards, the stories were probably forgotten. There was no Golf Channel in those days to replay the feather ball gasping into the hole.

Tiger’s been great for the game of golf, but his bigger strength is as a promoter for products or whatever cause has been crafted for him. Tiger’s woes appear self inflicted and some sponsors bravely put on the “full support” facade. But this is business; someone else will come along to be star spokesmodel…probably soon. Greater than golf? Please.

Since I’m not sure if I will be inspired by another infuriating article before Christmas, I end this missive with a poem sent to me, author unknown, which captures Mr. Woods’ saga. It’s not just highbrow stuff here. With apologies to the traditionalists:

> ‘Twas the night of Thanksgiving and out of the house
> Tiger
> Woods came a flyin’, chased by his spouse.
> She wielded a nine iron and wasn’t too merry,
> Cause a
> bimbo’s phone number was in his Blackberry.
> He’d been cheatin’ on Elin, and the story progressed.
> Woman
> after woman stepped up and confessed.
> He’d
> been cheatin’ with Holly, and Jaimee, and Cori,
> With Joselyn, and
> Kalika. The world had the story.
> From the
> top of the Tour to the basement of blues,
> Tiger’s sad sordid tale was
> all over the news.
> With hostesses,
> waitresses, he had lots of sex,
> When not in their pants, he was sendin’
> them texts.
> Despite all his cryin’ and
> beggin’ and pleadin’,
> Tiger’s wife went investin’ in a new home in
> Sweden.
> And I heard her exclaim from her
> white Escalade,
> “If you’re gettin’ laid, then I’m gettin’ paid.”
> She’s not pouting, in fact, she is of jolly
> good cheer,
> Her pre-nup made Christmas come early this
> year.