With all the horrors currently demanding the attention of the world, let’s delve into the world of sport to get away from it all.
Golf, now that’s a a civilized game where the overwhelming attitude is one of courtesy and a high regard for the rules of the game. What’s up with golf these days?
A new professional golf league, the LIV opened up for business this past weekend, the first time anyone has dared to go up against the machinery of the Professional Golfers of America (PGA) tour. Normally I’d be pulling for the new guy to give some lumps to the established order of things.
But this time I’m firmly with the established order. The LIV is fully funded and operated by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That’s right, the scum who kill anyone who they deem to be worthy of killing, from pesky journalists like Jamal Khashoggi to those whose preference in lifetime partners runs to the same sex.
Its being called Sportwashing, the act of trying to cleanse your public profile by associating with something perceived as clean, pure, fun, and likely to attract billions of eyeballs. Both Russia and China did it by hosting the Olympics and Qatar will be doing it this December when it hosts the soccer World Cup.
The PIF is pouring billions of petrodollars into this golf league in order to better the image of Saudi Arabia around the world. Really? How about not killing so many people. That costs (ruffles papers, checks statistics) nothing. You could spend all those billions on, oh I don’t know, not taxing the non-residents of your country, all those people (40% of the population) who do all of the work that none of your oil soaked countrymen want to do like clean houses, fix cars, or pave the roads. I mean you don’t tax actual Saudi citizens. In fact you give them a cut (a small cut) of the oil profits.
No instead they want to give all those billions to a bunch of already rich men who make a living hitting a little ball into a just slightly bigger hole in the ground.
The two biggest names to bolt from the PGA to the LIV are Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Both got nine figure deals to do the deed, Mickelson a reported $200 million. Now far be it from me to tell anyone not to take the money when the money is there to be taken, but the blood dripping off those dollars gives it a rather disconcerting stench.
But this league is all about the money. The tournament that was played last weekend had a total purse of $25 million dollars. Every one of their tournaments will have that sized purse. The winner took home a cheque (it was played in Britain) for $4.7 million of those dollars. Just for filling out the field players were guaranteed $250,000. Compare that to the PGA where a player is guaranteed (shuffles papers, checks stats) nothing unless they finish in the top sixty or so. After paying all of their costs most players don’t make any money from four days of golf unless they finish in the top 25. That’s week in and week out. It’s got to be pretty tempting to hear a quarter of a million just for showing up and more if you play well.
Which is what the Saudis are counting on. They seem to feel Americans will do anything for a buck, including forgetting that the buck comes from the country that produced Osama Bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers.
When asked about getting in bed with the Saudis, Phil Mickelson said:
“I certainly do not condone human rights violations.
Well, yes, yes you do. When you go into business with people who murder critics of their inhuman regime you ARE condoning human rights violations. The group 9/11 Families United issued a statement condemning any of the golfers who jumped to the new league
It was the Saudis who cultivated and spread the evil, hate-filled Islamist ideology that inspired the violent jihadists to carry out the deadly 9/11 attacks.
And, most egregiously, it is the Kingdom that has spent 20 years in denial: lying about their activities, and cowardly dodging the responsibility they bear. Yet these are your partners, and much to our disappointment, you appear pleased to be in business with them.
You know who else is pleased to be in business with them? Donald (Duck) Trump’s golf courses. Two of the LIV’s tournaments will be at Doral Country Club and Bedminster Country Club, both owned by Donald (Duck) Trump. Both are courses that the PGA has declared persona non grata for any tournaments. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, the organizing body of British golf, also refuses to sanction the use of a Trump owned course (Troon) for the British Open. Trump’s attempt to strong arm them into using Troon for The Open (as they call it in old Blighty) should have been part of at least ONE of his impeachment trials, but I guess no one thought it was important enough. Not surprisingly Trump is a huge supporter of the LIV.
Of course the irony of all this is that only really rich men would consider starting a new golf league to better burnish their image. Golf is not exactly the sport of the masses. TV ratings barely register for any tournament other than the four Majors. I would count myself as a golf fan and even I don’t watch much more than those four tournaments. Start a new pro football league and attract all the best NFL players and you might have a different story. As for now, all the LIV does is slap the public in the face with a reminder of where their $6 a gallon goes to.
Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA, queried the “rebel” players
“I would ask any player that has left or any player that would ever consider leaving, have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?”
I would add “Have you ever had to apologize for being a decent human being?” All pro golfers should be singing along with the Rolling Stones