Through Charlotte Wilder
FOX Sports columnist
Welcome to a new issue of Is It Sports? where I, Charlotte Wilder, decide whether something is a sport or not. if you are confused read this. Thank you for playing.
Golf likes to pretend it’s not dramatic.
The sport has thrived for centuries in the highest echelons of society, where people believe they are discreet, private and above the chaos. These folks aren’t above all else, of course, but golf has long existed in the old money fantasy of beautifully manicured grass, people to carry your stuff for you, and hushed conversations.
The PGA Tour has long been the only professional golf “league” in the world that really counts, so it didn’t have to grapple with intentionally loud or bold things. However, despite the way the PGA presents itself, it has always been full of gossip. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka had them dumbest ongoing feud any times. Tiger Woods, while definitely the most talented golfer who ever lived, has not been without his share of scandals (you all know this one, and if you don’t, google it). John Daly is…John Daly. And nobody likes Patrick Reed.
Still, the PGA maintained a facade of quiet competence. Majors like The Masters smoothed out ruffled feathers with pimento cheese and technology bans. Everything was good.
Then LIV Golf appeared.
The Saudi-backed, scandal-plagued, unfathomably wealthy company entered the world of golf like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack. LIV took a speedboat directly to the PGA Tour’s wooden hull. The crash has left players in the water clinging to wooden planks as LIV’s overlords toss down gilded ladders and say, “Climb aboard. We’ve got caviar in the fridge and champagne on tap, and all it’s costing you is your soul.”
So golf is obviously a sport. But what aspects of LIV PGA fighting are sports?
As a reminder of the criteria:
1. Is it about competition?
2. Is significant physical exertion required?
3. Can you write about it on a sports website without people asking why you are writing about it on a sports website?
4. Can I choose sides?
5. Would it entertain the majority of people to watch?
6. Would you do it for fun?
*7: Does it feel like exercise? (Can override any other criteria.)
Let’s take a look.
The LIV slogan: “Golf, but louder”
It’s a very silly slogan, but it’s also very true. The Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia is backing LIV and plans to add a range of gilding and marble to the traditional lacquered wood of the Gulf Atmosphere. The new company offers much bigger paydays for winning championships than the PGA ($25 million per competition) and even more money for simply agreeing to enter tournaments (Tiger Woods has reportedly been paid $800 million to $900 million dollars offered, which he declined).
But that slogan doesn’t meet my criteria for sport, nor does it allow Rule #7 to override it. Because it’s decidedly lame.
Conclusion: no sport
Make players wear LIV gear all the time
The Wall Street Journal recently got its hands on it some of the contracts for LIV golfers, and they are very special. Golfers must wear LIV attire when golfing, agree to recruit other golfers to LIV upon request, obtain approval before conducting interviews, and be granted permission to use a logo during competition. They also win $1 million if they win any of the PGA’s four major championships *eyeball emoji*.
Conclusion: It’s never sport to tell people how to dress. Even at weddings. Let your bridesmaids wear whatever they want.
Anyway, back to gulf.
Leaving the PGA Tour for LIV
Perhaps the least surprising aspect of the LIV situation is which players defected from the PGA Tour to join it. They’re golf’s villains — or at least the players who’ve contributed to its greatest drama (some of them funny, some of them not): Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, and more.
Look before I go any further: I get the allure of making sure your descendants have cash until the end of the world (unless you have a kid who goes rogue and invests everything in cryptocurrency). It is difficult to turn down money and there is very little money in sport (or in the world) that is “clean”.
Some golfers also say they are interested in LIV for opportunities to expand the game, make the sport more competitive, and through LIV’s shorter schedule (which may not be shorter than that of the PGA Tour) to spend more time with theirs families to spend.
But many people have rightly accused the Saudis of using LIV Golf to “sport wash” their human rights record. Some families of 9/11 victims even wrote a letter to Mickelson condemning him for collaborating with the Saudis.
There’s dirty money, and then there’s… this.
Conclusion: no sport
Walking over someone’s putting line to snub them
Scottie Scheffler, who has not yet joined LIV, recently went over Cameron Smith’s putting lineand in doing so, in an act of glorious pettiness, breaks one of the unwritten rules of golf.
Smith has been flirting with LIV, and it has been rumored for some time that he will join.
I’m a big fan of public disrespect that could be defended as an accident.
Conclusion: Definitely sport
Withdrawal from PGA events due to ‘hip ailment’
Smith has withdrawn from the upcoming BMW Championship due to “hip problems” since Scheffler crossed his line. Many in the golfing world rolled their eyes at the news.
Perhaps this isn’t an injury, but a farewell to the PGA from the young man with a mullet who just won the British Open.
Verdict: Poor cop-out, no sport
Banning golfers from playing in the PGA if they signed with LIV
When players started spilling over, the PGA Tour was like, “Hey, you can’t sit with us anymore.” The Tour requires members to ask permission before attending events that conflict with the Tour’s schedule.
So the tour banned them outright.
Verdict: Bold step, feels like sport
Lawsuit against the PGA Tour
After the suspension, the players said: “Uh, yes, we can sit down with you.” And to prove it, a group of LIV golfers sued the PGA, accusing them of antitrust violations.
As of now, a judge has denied her request for a restraining order and will not let her compete in PGA events.
Judgment: Trials are usually not a sport, so this is not a sport.
Challenge Tiger Woods in a court case
In the lawsuit, LIV golfers allege, “The [PGA] The tour also got Tiger Woods to do his bid and publicly criticize golfers – especially younger golfers – for joining LIV Golf by suggesting they never play at The Masters, The Open or any other major and none would earn OWGR points.
Woods did, but possibly of his own accord. He said: “I don’t agree with those who went to LIV. I think they have turned away from what made it possible for them to get to this position.”
Woods says LIV players have “turned their backs” on PGA.
Tiger Woods lashed out at the golfers who left the PGA for the LIV tour. Colin Cowherd explains why this stance might be hypocritical and why Woods will benefit if players leave the PGA.
Complaining about the opinion of the GOAT is stupid.
Conclusion: no sport
Sue the Gulf Channel
On August 16th Reed sued the Golf Channel (not a sentence I thought I’d be writing anytime soon!) and commentator Brandel Chamblee for defamation, “misreporting information with falsehood and/or reckless disregard for the truth”. Reed claimed that they actively slandered him for nine years, beginning when he was 23, in order to create “a hostile work environment” and “destroy his reputation.”
Reed was given a two-shot penalty for cheating on the Hero World Challenge in 2019 by improving his position, although he claims it wasn’t on purpose. Cheating allegations have haunted him since college. He argues that the Golf Channel and Chamblee have stirred up fan anger by speaking out, and he doesn’t seem to enjoy being criticized for leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV.
In the process, he doesn’t think about whether he and his behavior – maybe! – had something to do with his mood.
Verdict: You guessed it — not sports
Reject LIV to stay with TNT
Charles Barkley, the basketball star and professional TV commercial actor, considered joining LIV as a commentator. That probably would have meant quitting his job as a member of the NBA on TNT team.
If Chuck broke up that crew to play with LIV – if he already has what I’m guessing SO a lot of money – I would have been very, very angry.
But he did not do it. At least not yet.
Conclusion: Definitely sport
It gives us drama to follow and shakes up the world of golf, even if the reasoning and people behind it are pretty muddled
Charlotte Wilder is a general columnist and co-host of “The Volkssport Podcastfor FOX Sports. She’s honored to represent the perennially neglected Boston area in sports media, enjoys talking to sports fans about her feelings and loves eating a hot dog at a ballpark or nachos at a stadium. Follow her on Twitter @TheWilderThings.
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