A strange, unfamiliar world of golf coverage where golfers other than a certain golfer actually exist

Phil Mickelson won the Masters today, and guess what? A certain other golfer, who didn’t win the tournament, wasn’t mentioned at all in the AP’s article on the event, except for a passing mention of the fact that Mickelson’s was the lowest winning score in the Masters since that other golfer’s victory there in 2001. Mickelson had 16 below par. Meaning he averaged four below par for four days in a row. I’m impressed.

The return to what once was normal golf coverage, as though to the once-familiar but now forgotten and mysterious world of our childhood, seems to be general. In the well-written piece on the Masters finale at the New York Times, where in the usual course of things no golfer exists except for that other golfer, or at least does not exist in his own right, apart from the all-encompassing focus on that other golfer, that other golfer is not even mentioned until the ninth paragraph. Meaning that the Times’ story about Mickelson’s victory is (gasp) about Mickelson’s victory.

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Ben W. writes:

What went unsaid through all the media reporting but duly noted by all my friends was the presence, affection and commitment to his wife by Mickelson. As you say, the whole thing seemed so normal and good.

God, how we need the normal life…

Ben W. writes:

Might I add that Phil Mickelson shows a smiling graciousness in victory that I don’t see in that other golfer. Which brings to mind that I recall as growing up the gentlemanly character of past great athletes when sports were frankly white. There was a sense of greatness in athletic achievement as well as character. That stopped with the entry of blacks into professional sports.

One no longer sees this in professional sports, especially among black athletes. Any achievement on their part seems like a racial vindication of their bodies. Most black athletes wear a permanent scowl that comes out in fierce aggression on the playing field. The past white athlete demonstrated a human determination to be great; the black athlete shows an almost animalistic aggressiveness.

Frankly I’ve lost interest in most professional sports because they’ve become inhabited by athletes showing an “in your face” attitude.

Ben continues:

When interviewed by CBS, that other golfer said with no trace of graciousness, “Of course I’m not happy to come in fourth; I enter each tournament to win.” Lee Westwood, who finished in third place said with a grin, “I’m happy to be where I am, it’s been a great tournament and Phil deserved it.”

In that other golfer’s mind, it’s always been about him. When other win, he can’t join in the festiveness.

LA replies:

I’ve become aware of Wood’s ugly self-centeredness since his marital troubles exploded in November. Almost every photo of him in the media is the same: wearing that stupid baseball cap pulled down over his face, with this petulant, worried, self-concerned look which says, “Will I win? Will I win?” His attitude conveys no graciousness toward the game, no sportsmanship. It’s just about him. It’s ugly—and our culture has become even ugly as a result of making an icon of this unpleasant personality.

On your point about blacks, I don’t think the old ethos was lost immediately with the entry of blacks into professional sports. There was a progression. At least I think that that was the case with baseball. The first blacks who played Major League ball conformed to the old ethos (think of Willie Mays). But those who followed them became more and more brutish over time. By the 1990s, baseball had become unwatchable for me. There were several reasons for this, but one of them was that so many of the blacks were overweight thugs. It was in the nineties that sports in particular and our culture in general went over the line into sheer ugliness, with barely a peep of protest from anyone, not from fans, not from sports writers, not from culture critics, not from social conservatives.

April 13

Peter H. writes:

Ben W.’s comment made me think of the way many black athletes dance in end-zones, slam-dunk basketballs, and, yes, pump their fists after making difficult putts. They seem to be interested in taunting and humiliating the opponent rather than engaging him as a respected adversary. There must be some connection between this type of behavior and, say, repeatedly stomping on the head of the person you’re assaulting or dancing gleefully after you’ve just thrown a brick into a complete innocent’s skull as happened to Reginald Denny in 1992. Fundamentally, there seems to be an effort to obliterate, dehumanize, and erase completely your opponent/adversary.

By way of contrast, just before live coverage of the Masters final round began on Sunday, they replayed portions of the 1977 Masters where Tom Watson eked out a victory over a charging Jack Nicklaus. The mutual respect and admiration were obvious. It was nostalgic and touching, marked by grace and humility, compared to the fare we are offered today.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 11, 2010 07:42 PM | Send

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