Friday, June 20, 2008

Who's happy that Tiger is going to miss the rest of the golf season? This guy!

Now, that’s not to say that I take direct pleasure from the pain that others endure. That’s almost never the case. But I thank my lucky stars that Tiger Woods won’t be playing in any more tournaments this year. Am I a Tiger-hater? Not at all. Do I really like Phil Mickelson, or Ernie Els, or Vijay Singh? Nope. How, then, can I be so delighted that Tiger Woods has been sidelined?

Because I hate golf. You know what doesn’t matter? Golf. I mean, no sports really matter, in the grand scheme of things, but golf is completely irrelevant, even on a sports level. Think I’m wrong? Ask yourself how many golfers you actually legitimately care about. What’s the number? One? Maybe two or three that you really want to see either win or lose? Out of how many? Hundreds? And if one of those golfers isn’t Tiger (or if you remove Tiger from your list), how many tournaments come by that those golfers are even relevant? Maybe 20%, if you’re talking about Mickelson or Els? Trevor Immelman won the Masters this year for his second win ever, I bet he’s one of yours.

No, the reality is that people pick up the story of the week every single tournament. Paul Goydos was the story at The Players Championship in May, and Rocco Mediate was the story at last week’s U.S. Open. And there’s another story every time golfers get together. I’m not trying to come down on the people who play golf and get these brief moments in the spotlight; I live every day hoping for those moments, and they never come.

But I do mean to trivialize their accomplishments. The sport of golf is only marginally more impressive than darts. You play golf outdoors, and tend to not be on your fourth Crown and coke, staring at that buxom blonde across the bar when you’re playing golf. The tasks are the same, though. Put a small item (a golf ball, or the tip of a dart) into a small area (cup, bullseye) on a relatively large field (hole, dart board). You get at least two tries in golf, and just one in darts, but you’re splitting hairs at that point. It should come as no surprise that people enjoy playing Golden Tee (which I think is retarded) and beer pong, as well as darts, when drinking. When your mind is feeling lazy, you want to play a simple game. There are few people who want to break out a chess board after they’ve been drinking, or who bring Risk to the bar.

And don’t make me laugh and call it a spectator sport, when it’s anything but. What kind of spectator sport demands complete silence while the player is getting ready to perform? Think about those kinds of moments in other sports: setting up for a field goal in football, taking a free throw in basketball, throwing a pitch on a full count. Those are among the loudest moments you’ll see in a competitive game, because the crowd is trying to rattle the competitor. In golf, it’s considered bad form to make any noise at all while a player is getting ready to tee off, which is fortunate, because nobody cares enough to actually want to rattle anyone.

The most ridiculous part of professional golf is that everyone’s favorite player is the same guy: Tiger Woods. What kind of bogus sport is that, where everyone’s cheering for only one guy? Even in tennis, which has a lot of the same flaws as golf, not everyone cheers for Nadal or Roddick or Federer, just as not everyone cheered for Agassi or Sampras or Borg or Ashe or McEnroe. Everyone had their own favorites, and the clashes made for great TV and great debate. But when everyone likes the same guy, there are no debates, there are no great matches. People cheered for Rocco Mediate because they knew nothing about him. “Who’s this nobody challenging Tiger? Let’s see what he’s got!”

So back to the point of this post: why am I happy that Tiger Woods has gotten himself hurt and won’t be around? Because I’m sick of golf taking up 3 minutes of SportsCenter, or thirty minutes of a sports radio show. I don’t give a whirl about how Justin Leonard was able to stave off a late surge by Biggle McBaggyPants. I don’t care about Tiger doing it either, but at least now, a lot of the big sports people will be in the same boat. The guys on Around the Horn always comment about how a golf tournament isn’t legitimate unless Tiger is playing in it. Hopefully that means they won’t talk about any for the next six months. I want golf to slip into the sports subconscious; bring it back if you must when Tiger is back, but let me have this time. Let baseball and football and basketball have this time.

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