July 22, 2007


I like sports and watch the big events when I can. I rarely watch a regular golf tournament, but enjoy watching the majors. I like the drama of people competing under pressure. So this weekend (with SOF out of town) I have tried to watch the British Open--when I am not chasing Abbie around, that is. And as I write this, I am hoping that Sergio will pull it off. I know CIL doesn't like him, but I don't mind the Spaniard. I like his game.

But there are a few annoyances from this Open coverage. First is the play of some American named Boo Weekley. I was recently chastized for my anti-Southern attitude, but people like Weekley don't help. Not only does he seem to embrace the kind of anti-intellectual disdain for language, but he doesn't even like golf that much. He has no sense of the history of the game--doesn't watch it, and has no clue who some of these people are. Perhaps, especially given my next complaint, I should enjoy someone who disdains the pomp of golf history, but it annoys me that someone who seems to disrespect the game so much--is still good enough to be a pro player and play on this kind of stage. Or perhaps that is just jealousy on my part. Perhaps I resent someone who doesn't even care that much about something he can play at a professional level, while most of us aren't that good at what we truly care about. Oh well.

But the second item is most annoying. This year, the Open is at Carnoustie, so the inevitable Jean Van de Velde discussions are to be expected. Those who don't watch golf (Boo) might even remember the monumental collapse on the last hole from 1999. Van de Velde played aggressively that hole with a several stroke lead (I think it was three), hit several bad shots, and had some very bad luck as well. He ended up losing the tournament in a playoff.

Of course, the coverage would talk about it. It was a memorable moment at this particular course. But the American coverage (which is all I get) of the Van de Velde story was simply horrible. The last few days, ABC ran an extensive look at that last hole--complete with commentators at the time and now calling Van de Velde stupid. This morning, ABC interviewed the man himself and made it clear that they demanded and insisted that Van de Velde be ashamed of losing. He kept reminding them that it was a game--that he would have liked to have won, but there were more important things. ABC would have none of it. Be ashamed. Of course, they also raved about Boo Weekley's "honesty." Whatever that means.

Oh well.


Anonymous said...

Streak, As I sit in apartment - four weeks now without TV - I appreciate the sports commentary. Regarding Van de Velde, do you think there is a cultrual conflict occuring in the interview process? That is, American sports media emphasizes winning championships so much that Peyton Manning really did not become a great quarterback until HIS TEAM (great running game and a stout defense) beat the Chicago Bears on a rain-soaked field? Dan Marino, for instance, is not considered in the elite of NFL quarterbacks - behind Montana, Favre?, and a used car salesman from Denver. Have the media always treated winning with such reverence? Did sports writers apply the same scrutiny in the 1960s or 1970s? If not, what has changed in the last fifty years of sports to emphasize the "cult of winning"? Is this part of a Michael Jordan-effect where sports figures cannot be considered great unless they sport those gawdy diamond encrusted rings?

On a related note, the main problem I have with Sergio is that he is/was a media creation. Sports media outlets (like the obnoxious ESPN) and marketing are constantly chasing the "next big thing," the next Michael Jordan who could help make a shoe company from remote Oregon into a international corporation that exploits workers all over the world. But, the constant search to create media stories (e.g., media panders to Sergio because it wants someone to challenge Tiger Woods so the can sell advertising and have something exciting on the last day of a major) and "the next big thing" turns me off from sports. Not completely enough to stop subscribing to NFL Sunday Ticket, but enough that I no longer watch ESPN (other than PTI).

Streak said...

Can't resist the used car salesman, can you?

I think you are at least partially right. This country does in fact obsess over winning. Reminds us of the Simpsons Olympics that announced the "glorious gold, so-so silver, and shameful bronze." I wonder if it isn't related to the American exceptionalism. If our country is the best, why would we celebrate anyone who isn't?

Now for the partially incorrect. I agree that sports media craves the "next big thing," and that drives a lot of our sports coverage. I remember one kid being called "the next Michael Jordan" who disappeared so quickly that I can't remember his name. Something Minor or something.

But Sergio has skills and has competed in majors. Has numerous top 5 finishes, which is something. (Though, as I write this, Sergio is choking like a Chicago Cub.)

steve s said...

Most sports emphasize winning. I am not all that old, but I guess I can't remember a time where they didn't. There seems to be plenty of evidence that sports in the past also emphasize winning. Having lived overseas, I saw the same thing (at least in Europe and South America).

I disagree that Marino isn't considered among the elites. Championships aside, I still wouldn't place him ahead of Favre or Montana, but he is still one of the best. His lack of a championship is as much of a reflection of of the team and the coaching as it is of him.

Streak said...

Steve, no one is saying that winning isn't emphasized, but there is a difference between celebrating winning and disparaging those in second place. CIL, I think, would agree with you that Marino is a great quarterback, but is commenting on the problems that great players face who don't win championships. There is little doubt that they are often given the asterisk approach "great player, but didn't win the big one."

Bootleg Blogger said...

What the hell is twitter and why are you asking me to follow you there? Where we're from you'd better have a good explanation for a comment like "Follow me to twitter".-BB

Streak said...

Yeah, I don't understand it either and will probably remove it. It doesn't work well for me.

"Where we're from?"

What the hell does that mean? :)

Bootleg Blogger said...

You know, "Where we cum frum"- insinuating extra machismo, tougher types. Ya know, you and me. Or, at least, maybe, our dads. :-)
Later- BB

Streak said...

Reminds me of the rough streets of Brooklyn when you and I were just "two utes."