NBC’s Horrendous Coverage Has Lanny H Urging the U.S. to Consider Socialism

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!”)

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9 Responses to NBC’s Horrendous Coverage Has Lanny H Urging the U.S. to Consider Socialism

  1. Ken says:

    Good stuff Lanny.

    They never seem to comment on or attempt to explain the Justin Thomas’s of the world. 145 pounds and hits it 320. SI years ago did an article on the mechanics of golf swings. At the time, Davis Love was about the longest hitter on tour. I think they described his chest as “concave” and commented on his general lack of muscle. In his case, the lack of bulk meant there was nothing to get in the way of extreme flexibility.

    You don’t need to be muscle bound to be a big hitter. I know something about that, long wishing that I had more upper body strength. But at 51 I can still outdrive most people and when I was young, it wasn’t often that I ran into someone that could knock it past me. (Not that I was ever a great player. My obsession with hitting it long may have been more harmful than helpful to my overall game.)

    • lannyh says:

      Exactly. They ignore the Justin Thomases. Doesn’t fit their narrative. Most of the guys in, say, tennis do tend to have a generally similar appearance, but in golf, all sorts of body types can excel. They should revel in that, but they seem ashamed of it. I have quite a bit of material on some of this stuff. I just need to put it together in the next two weeks. Masters Week would be a good time to post it.

  2. JoseyWales says:

    Lanny…here’s the thing. The golf media knows too well who their audience is…it is older, white, upper middle class males…it’s been that way forever…that’s why the Cadillac/Rolex/Mercedes Benz crowd loves golf…that’s where the money is. The Golf Channel’s audience is 75% male mostly over 34 yrs. old and skewing towards the over- 50 plus demographic. Fine and dandy but there’s a problem. As this older, well-to-do-spare-time-on-their-hands group dies off, THERE IS NO ONE TO TAKE THIER PLACE. Golf is losing the 18-34 crowd…the “millenials” are turning their back on golf and spending their time and money elsewhere. This is not my opinion, IT IS FACT. The golf media knows this and it is making them PARANOID that they are losing their future. And take it from someone who has worked for a major media corp. (the one that televises the Masters), NOBODY IS MORE PARANOID AND INSECURE THAN MEDIA PEOPLE. They put on a good show, but on the inside they are scared nobody is watching or listening to them or reading their “stuff”. They are all afraid for their jobs and most of them don’t make much money to begin with. This media fear over losing the millenials is evident everywhere…this is why you see the over-hyping of “athleticism”…the constant promoting of the “youth movement” and “young guns” and “fist pumps”…Golf Digest’s Jaime Diaz even published a “letter to readers” announcing the “new direction” the magazine would be taking with and all-out push to grab the “millennial” market. The pages of Golf Digest now resemble more of a People Magazine or a cheap version of Esquire than a golf publication. And their website has become an online TMZ.
    I have tracked the Golf Channel TV ratings over the last three years…total audience numbers in prime time and total day (24 hr)…despite what you may hear, they are DOWN anywhere from 20-30%. Oh sure, a given week will catch an upward bounce, but over all, despite the spin, they are LOSING AUDIENCE. The trend is not good.
    So that’s where we are…the younger crowd is not embracing golf. The golf media is fully aware and are trying to lure them back in anyway they can. Thus far, they are not succeeding.
    In the meantime, the presentation of golf on television and in print is becoming more and more annoying to most of us.

    • lannyh says:

      Great comment. You provide a logical reason for their actions; that’s the kind of thing I’ve been searching for.
      Their push to maintain ratings and keep their jobs is kind of where I was going with the capitalism-socialism angle. Is there any other sports or news coverage segment where the reporters are so openly holding out tin cups begging for money? They need to keep that to themselves. They also tend to, for the most part, be more concerned with TV ratings than anything else. They’ll mention rounds played, but not very often, and with no real concern.
      On the other hand, the world is composed of cycles. Stocks go up; stocks go down. Interest in golf goes up; interest in golf goes down. A 30 percent drop in either doesn’t mean the economy is dying, or that golf is dying. Golf tends to do well in a good economy, and right now, we don’t have a booming economy.
      I think that’s a large part of the reason for millennials not playing, in addition to them being rather young to be taking up the game. Some are born into golf, but many, like me (even though my father played), take it up after they enter the working world. Give them time.
      If the Golf Powers are worried that golf’s next boom will come too late to pad their pockets, that’s too bad. I don’t care. I don’t cry for every corporation with a stock ticker symbol that loses money. They built too many courses. I can’t think of the word… upscale. They built a lot of upscale (high cost) courses and sold a lot of equipment based on consumer ignorance. They need a shakeout every bit as much as the tech sector needed a shakeout in 2000. Nasdaq is just now returning to the level of 2000 — fifteen years later. Golf needed a good purge.

      Anyway, great post. I’ll re-read it and think about it some more.

      Oh, one other thing I was going to say: Is this strategy of selling to millennials based on being budding Arnold Schwarzeneggers even a good idea? I think of “hipsters” when I think of millennials. Sports-focused people tend to turn to golf naturally. Look at all the ex-jocks who play. If they want to get people to play golf because it’s cool, they’d do better, in my opinion, to go after the hipster types. And those guys are not the type to admire roid-raging gym rats. The hipsters are more apt to have disposable income in the future years, too.
      Anyway, I didn’t mean to go all stream-of-consciousness, but I do think the golf media is making a collective fool of itself.

    • lannyh says:

      Thinking more about what you wrote… That would sure explain the reluctance of the golf media to even allow conversation about the suspicious links of Tiger Woods to PEDs, and why they went after Olsen so forcefully (once the Tour and Steinberg gave them their marching orders). If these guys are saying anything they think will help them keep their job another quarter, and if they feel Woods is still their meal ticket, well, that would explain why they puff him up so much. It’s really sickening, truth be told.

      They are no longer doing their jobs because they think they might lose them. Rather ironic.

  3. Ken says:

    I’ve noticed a new theme recently on Golf Channel and among other commentators. The ” you don’t need to play a lot of golf to be competitive in a given week” theme.

    Why don’t they just literally beg on bended knee for Woods to play the Masters?

  4. Jason says:

    Best wishes with your sobriety, Lanny. Glad you will be back before the Masters.

    • lannyh says:

      Well, thanks, but, for the record, I’m already sober! (I hope my writing didn’t cause you to think otherwise, haha.) There will be more info in the interview thing tomorrow or whenever.

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