First impressions on Nike’s big announcement regarding sponsorship of Rory McIlroy:
What the hell was that? I didn’t know whether to bow or to throw a giant hammer. I kept waiting for Tupac to appear and rap about Rory’s new golf clubs. Coachella in Abu Dhabi?
The female Nike Golf president stated, two or three times, innovation was what brought athletes to Nike. Yeah, right. And people pick up found $10 bills to help combat litter.
Michael Jordon, who has meant more to Nike than any other athlete, was never mentioned. Odd in that, without Jordon, Nike would never have been able to execute their mission statement: Sell massively over-priced shoes to children living in poverty.
I got the impression there was more than a little intentional distancing of Rory from Tiger Woods. Rory seemed to go out of his way — and of course it was all scripted by Nike — to mention other Nike athletes. I wondered if Rory was going to mention Russell Henley before he did Woods.
I’m a fan of Manchester United, but, I have to admit I needed subtitles for Wayne Rooney’s remarks.
These gatherings of international golf reporters never fail to show how tepid and limp-wristed are our American bunch. European reporters ask real questions, and if they are not answered, point out that fact. Example: a guy asked Rory if he could, contractually, switch back to his Scotty Cameron putter if he wanted; Rory said he liked the Nike putter just fine; the reporter pointed out that was not the question he had asked. As well, the question to the Nike Golf president regarding Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods’ fall into disgrace was one American reporters would never ask.
It seemed weird as hell to have a mosque towering in the distance as a giant hologram strutted around on stage, but I guess it wasn’t any weirder than Trinity Church looking down Wall Street in Lower Manhattan.
Rory seemed embarrassed by all the hoopla. Nike probably urged him to make his grand entrance — through the de rigueur (and asinine) American sports fog/smoke — in the style of an NFLer doing a sack dance. Rory, however, walked out with his standard, off-the-rack, regular-guy lope.
The commercial Nike premiered was just as hokey as you would expect. Nike, perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, thrust Tiger Woods into a co-starring role. The punchline was Woods saying to Rory, “You’ll learn.” I thought the gag would have been more clever had there, at that point, been an insert of Dr. Anthony Galea winking. Especially in light of Major League Baseball’s recent decision to test for HGH, as well as the recent suspicions of Nike covering up for Lance Armstrong.
All in all, it was a fairly amusing event, even if the holograms were more than a little creepy. Rather than the mosque looming in the distance, Dr. Frankenstein’s castle would have seemed more fitting.
Now, what does all of this mean to golf fans? This: American golf journalists, to the man, will stop producing ten vapid “Tiger’s swing change” pieces a week and instead produce ten “Rory’s gear change” pieces a week. Equally vapid, you can be sure. (Admit it, after reading this, you can already hear Chamblee prattling on and on [and on and on] about Rory’s new equipment.)
[I must add one last point, lest you later accuse me of being daft. Chamblee, nor anyone else, can actually say anything of substance about Rory's equipment change. Why not? Because they can't risk alienating Nike or Titleist, both being too critical to advertising dollar inflow. Sean Foley doesn't buy tens or hundreds of million dollars worth of advertising, so he can be bashed endlessly. You have heard me say it many times before: there is zero separation of church and state in the American golf media.]