Monday Thought

I’m going to focus on just one topic today.  It’s a broad one: the intentional, and unintentional, creation and propagation of extremely exaggerated or outright false information.

There are many examples in golf.  Probably the most actively pushed one is the idea that increased distance in golf is the result of “better athletes” and “more time in the gym.”  Of course, the easily observable, easily provable reason for increased distance is the equipment.  When the Pro V1 was introduced, the Tour driving average immediately went up six or seven yards.  And isn’t it amusing that most golf equipment commercials make promises about increased distance, yet the equipment companies want to put the blame (credit?) for courses getting longer (and slower) on “better athletes” spending “more time in the gym”?  Worth noting: the first of those phrases appeals to golfers’ egos, and the second one is an ipso facto advertisement for the health club and equipment industry.

This leads us to a recent Washington Post article about obesity/exercise/caloric-intake.  It’s written by a doctor who makes this amusing confession:

Sadly, many doctors’ understanding of nutrition is influenced by bogus industry advertising. In July 2012, I stopped drinking the popular sports drink Lucozade after Oxford University researchers found a “striking lack of evidence” to support claims that such products enhance performance and recovery. Instead of wasting close to $10,000 over the previous 15 years drinking a product loaded with seven teaspoons of sugar, I would have been better off drinking tap water at the gym.

People are extremely susceptible to advertising and other less direct methods of pushing propaganda, and those seeking ever-increasing power or wealth will gladly use every method available to manipulate the public.  One propagandic myth I’ve discussed many times is, “Tiger Woods made golfers rich.”  Money went up in all sports — some of them more than golf — yet, Tiger Woods is almost always given the credit in golf.  (No other sport credits a single person, an interesting point to ponder.)  There are people who have heard “Woods made golfers rich” so many times, they believe it with all their hearts.  It’s incontrovertible fact to them: The sun rises in the east; Tiger Woods made golfers rich.  They won’t even consider the facts.  They are in love with the narrative and will not risk having it taken from them.

Anyway, the Washington Post article — and I encourage everyone to give it a good, attentive reading — makes the point that while exercise has many benefits, weight loss is not really one of them.  Americans are becoming heavier and heavier while working out more and more.  From the White House down, the focus is on exercise instead of just on diet.  Why?  Here’s one reason, or rather twenty-two billion reasons:

The fitness industry has never been stronger. Health clubs in the United States brought in $22.4 billion in 2013, doubling their revenue in just 15 years. Sales of fitness trackers (the wearable devices that measure everything from your daily steps to your blood oxygen level) are expected to triple within the next five years. And health and fitness apps were the fastest-growing downloads from Google’s app store last year. Still, obesity has continued to surge around the world.

I guess the takeaway — and people reading this website don’t need to be told — is that we must take the “everybody knows” purported facts with a very large grain of salt.  As I get older, I find more and more of the “everybody knows” facts are, at best, general guidelines, at worst, outright lies.

Everybody knows that:

  • Tiger Woods made golfers rich
  • Increased distance in golf comes from today’s more athletic golfers who spend time in the gym
  • If people exercised more, they wouldn’t be overweight

The problem is, all three are false.  They “seem like” they would be true, however, and that’s as much mental energy as most people are willing to expend, especially when “informed people” (who make a lot of money off of their misconceptions) insist the narratives are true.

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13 Responses to Monday Thought

  1. Kris says:

    I agree completely. Many people don’t take the time to investigate topics themselves because they are afraid of being intellectually and emotionally challenged. What ever happened to critical thinking? I hold beliefs, but they are subject to change based on new information. I’m not always right, but when someone asks me why I believe something I try to have a well supported answer. If I don’t, then that belief might change.

  2. Sports-realist2 says:

    Yep MOST doctors in every field are NOT dieticians…I believe it’s only around 10% of doctors who are nutritionists….This means that MOST people go to their doctors and are told to take pills, exercise, and even diet, BUT they know LITTLE of what they are talking about, since the high carb/low fat diet model by the federal govt does NOT work……
    People drink gatorade because they think all that sugar SOMEHOW makes them better or stronger or whatever, YET it’s basically drinking pop, as high fructose is one of the main ingredients……All the rest is ADVERTISING, and think how many gatorade commercials you’ve seen in your lifetime, and yet it’s all nonsense……

    • haterade says:

      I don’t know if the Gatorade example is all nonsense. Playing golf here in Texas in the hot summer months, you definitely have to stay hydrated. For the most part I was with you in thinking Gatorade was just a marketing ploy but over the last couple of years I’ve played some golf with others that carry some Gatorade with them. I definitely notice a difference between Gatorade and plain tap water, in a positive way.

  3. Speedy says:

    Are we talking about overweight America, or PGAT? Either way, lanny appears to be supersizing his argument by undersizing logic and leaving out some facts..
    It’s no secret that Tim Finchem was able to build revenue and purses with TW as a bargaining chip.
    It’s no secret that virtually all health professionals promote good health with sensible diet and exercise.
    It’s no secret that golf equipment improvements, swing data, player strength, etc., etc., can and has yielded more golf ball distance.

    • lannyh says:

      You didn’t read the link article, I don’t think. It’s about weight loss, not “good health.”

      The “bargaining chip” meme is the same false claim. Look, ALL sports went up in comparable amounts. There’s no way to spin it otherwise. Did NASCAR use Woods as a “bargaining chip”? Did the NFL? Did every sport?

      • Speedy says:

        I did read it, and you’re mistaken. Simply one thing, weight loss, was/is contrary to health benefits.

        Re bargaining chips, as another poster stated, all sports enterprises need them. Otherwise, you’re putty in any buyer’s hands.

        Regarding TW’s worth in this regard–“Woods had much less of an impact than the last time we spoke to the PGA Tour,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus, 2011

      • lannyh says:

        “Simply one thing, weight loss, was/is contrary to health benefits.”

        No comprende. The article was about exercise not being linked to weight loss, for the reasons delineated in the piece.

  4. BoomBoom says:

    Purses in all sports began to grow a bunch in the late 90’s Thinking back, it would seem the internet, and gradually, social media helped facilitate this growth and each sport had it’s star(s) to latch on to.

    Baseball – After the strike in the early/mid 90’s, along came MacGuire and Sosa that many, at the time, said “saved” baseball.
    Basketball – Along came Kobe and Pierce and Garnett and Timmy Duncan and a host of others I’m leaving out (add Shaq to that group)
    Nascar – A young Dale Ernhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and a bunch of other marketable drivers
    Golf – Tiger Woods
    Football – Peyton Manning and slightly later Tom Brady moved onto the scene
    Tennis – Agassi and Sampras were winding down while Federer, and a little later Nadal and The Joker came along

    Things like social media, internet, marketing, etc may have been the true driving factors but each sport needed/had someone to hitch their wagons too and Tiger was it for Golf.

  5. lannyh says:

    Remind me again when someone made the claim that “Peyton made all football players rich.” “Sampras made all tennis players rich”?

    What your comment sounds like to me is, “Tiger Woods no more brought money to his sport than any other prominent-in-his-day professional athlete did.” Woods, like all those other sportsmen, was interchangeable. So much for Woods being special, which is the basis of the claim that “Tiger made golfers rich.”

    • TrueGolfFan says:

      I think what I’m saying is the marketing, especially internet marketing and social media avenues provided the opportunity and that the star for golf was Tiger. Other sports had their marketing stars too. If there wasn’t Tiger in Golf, or Federer in Tennis, etc, would you have seen as big of growth? Or would it have been slower? No way to answer but I think the fact that Tiger was “the guy” in golf is exactly why you see the “tiger made golfers rich”. The things I mentioned were the truck and Tiger was the trailer hauling the rest of the tour.

      • lannyh says:

        I just don’t think you would have seen “Phil Mickelson made golfers rich” any more than you see “Peyton Manning made football players rich.”

        I am Peyton Manning? There’s an entire sui generis mythology about Woods that is bogus. Made golfers rich. Hits shots no one else can.

        He was a great golfer who brought some new demographics to the TV screen (but not to the course).

      • TrueGolfFan says:

        That’s what I’m talking about. Again, no way to prove it but given Tiger woods as the “trailer” or Phil as the “trailer”, Tiger likely had more pull in helping grow purses. Of course no athlete single handedly drives purses, it’s the marketers/investors/sponsors that do that but one could argue that those folks were more likely to devote those monies to someone like Tiger than anyone else. Remember all those Peyton Manning Mastercard ads? Think those are as popular with anyone else as the “performer”?

        Example, Rory McIlroy among others were not drawn to golf by Tiger; it was there families. But in another “unprovable” scenario, does Rory become what he is without Tiger as the dominant force that golfers strive to get to?

      • lannyh says:

        I don’t feel like we are communicating. Take the Business Insider article by Tony Manfred, “The Tiger Woods Era Made Pro Golfers More Money Than They Could Have Dreamed Of.”

        Find even ONE comparable claim in any other sport. There are hundreds or thousands of examples of that claim being made for Woods. If you count comment sections, there are millions or billions. I have even heard PGA Tour players say it. I’ve written probably ten articles about specific occurrences I’ve encountered.

        But money in golf went up right in line with every other sport. Why then the claims for Woods?

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