After watching NBC’s golf telecast yesterday afternoon, I have concluded that capitalism is a dead-end street. This piece focuses on the profits-above-all mindset of NBC, but even the small bits in between the money-grubbing was pathetic. Fewer putts, NBC, fewer putts. More continuity, more full shots, more setup. Continuity, continuity, continuity. And above all, shots, not shite.
The only purpose of golf journalism today, televised or written, is to move product. Either directly — “Buy this now!” — or indirectly through a campaign to “grow the game.” The second is less obvious, but no less annoying.
The direct selling by NBC is completely out of hand. I’m not talking here about outright commercials; we’ve all come to accept those; they pay the bills. I’m talking about what NBC presents as content, but which is nothing more than advertising.
The UBS Sports Break opens every NBC golf telecast. This is a 5-minute Sports Center of sorts: five minutes of sports information while a giant UBS logo appears behind the reporter. Normally this comes after you suffer through a hockey or basketball overrun.
Another commercial passed off as content is the Pacific Life Spotlight. This is where NBC stops showing golf and fills our television screens with some irrelevant so-called statistic, “brought to you by Pacific Life.” (This is similar to CBS’s “Konica Minolta bizhub SwingVision” interruptions.)
Then there’s the indirect advertising, the purposeful perception shaping. I guess you could call it propaganda with the purpose of creating consumers. I often spot this — it’s so damn obvious — even when I can’t deduce its purpose.
One example is how golf announcers constantly push the idea that golfers are athletes, often with remarks about how “ripped” they are. They love to talk about how much time players spend “in the gym.” (They often credit this interest in the gym to Tiger Woods, even though the idea that time “in the gym” is some kind of magical path to success predates Woods and has been ubiquitous for decades in all occupations, from Wall Street bankers to professional chess players.)
I can guess at the purpose of this indirect advertising. It is, I assume, a campaign to make golf “cool,” so that lemmings will associate playing golf with “being an athlete” and “being ripped.” It seems to me, however, that they are more apt to be pushing more people away from golf than they could hope to be attracting with that propaganda campaign. Do they want people to buy Gold’s Gym memberships or golf clubs?
Let me be blunt. Here’s the message they are pushing: “Golf — it’s not just for little faggots anymore.”
I urge you to notice this when you watch golf coverage on television. They will go on and on about the “new athletes coming into golf.” Gym, ripped, athletes, gym, ripped, athletes, gym, ripped, athletes. When something is repeated over and over, there is a reason.
I find this propaganda both funny and insulting. Funny because golf once had players like Hale Irwin, who was a two-time college football All-Big Eight defensive back. Professional football quarterback John Brodie played pro golf after he retired from the NFL. Today’s poster boy for an “athlete” is generally Dustin Johnson who presumably is “ripped” and “spends time in the gym.” I don’t know Dustin Johnson’s life story, but I can’t find anything outstandingly “athletic” about his past from Wiki or Google searches. Truthfully, if anything, it seems to me that pro golf is getting fewer “real athletes” than it once did. (If that is the case, perhaps that would explain why they are pushing the opposite view so forcefully?)
At any rate, here’s my view. The view of a guy who has the self-confidence to think for himself and laugh at the idea of “peer pressure” and conformity.
I have always liked golf. And I have never cared if someone wanted to call it a “sport” or a “game.” Golf has a mental aspect to it that is lacking in most sports. I also know that a failed golfer is much more likely to become an investment broker than a failed football or basketball player, just as a failed rower or chess player or bridge player is more likely to be what an employer offering a “good job” is looking for. If someone labels golf a “game,” that’s fine by me. But if they label it a “sport,” that’s fine by me, too.
Beyond that, the beauty of golf is that the type of athleticism required is not the kind of athleticism you get from lifting weights. Okay, at the very top reaches of the game, maybe it provides a minute advantage, and when you are playing for millions of dollars, you want ever edge you can get. But for the average Joe, breaking 100 or 90 or 80 or par has nothing to do with pumping iron. There’s a reason table tennis champions don’t look like NFL offensive linemen. Nor do Olympic sprinters look like Olympic marathon runners. There are different types of athleticism required for different sports. The beauty of golf is that the table tennis champ, the NFL lineman, the sprinter, and the marathoner all have the same chance of excelling at it.
Anyway, I think it is sad that the golf media has such a disdain for their game that they feel the need to get approval from the “real sports” crowd. I don’t understand it. It seems counterproductive to me.
I have a major piece on this topic which I plan to post prior to the Masters. Which brings me to my next topic…
I will be in rehab for an addiction all next week. During that time, someone else (an old “friend” some of you may remember) will be taking care of this website. They may not post much of anything at all, I don’t know. (I hope they don’t.) One thing I know they will post, though, is an “interview” with me in which I’ll provide more details on my impending absence.
I will not be commenting further upon the matter, not even in response to comments or questions. (My implied response to everything is “No comment.” Or, “Shut up!”)