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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Augusta Shows True Colors, Denies Female Reporter Access

A while back I made “Golf is not a sport” a label for posts on the Ink that mention golf as a mild protest against the game I just can’t stand. It was meant as a little jab at the people who talk breathlessly about the game as if it is something to be revered. I had been considering writing a post explaining my disgust for golf, but felt it was more important to try to stay topical and write about actual sports that people care about for something other than the lifestyle suggested by playing it.

Then the folks at Augusta struck, and made the subject topical.

It wasn’t easy to find, because let’s face it the broadcast partners of the Masters and PGA don’t want to upset any of the good ol’ boys who run the sport, but it was possible on Monday to learn that a female reporter was denied access to a post-tournament interview because it was held in a men’s locker room.

Tara Sullivan of The Bergen Record in New Jersey later tweeted, “Bad enough no women members at Augusta. But not allowing me to join writers in locker room interview is just wrong.”

Sadly, while she received plenty of support, dumb replies seemed just as prevalent. For example, one genius replied, “no it’s not. The masters is loved for it’s great tradition. Its a private facility and entirely has the right to do so.” [sic]

In a story I had to search for to find on espn.com while Barry Bonds’ perjury trial was on the main page, it was clear that even Augusta was willing to at least publicly admit they messed up. “Augusta National spokesman Steve Ethun said the guard acted improperly in stopping Sullivan, because club policy is to provide equal access to all reporters.”

Augusta never admitted its first black member until 1990 when the PGA was finally forced to pressure clubs hosting their events to break the color barrier due to bad publicity.

This is the same PGA that ran Casey Martin off their “tour” for having the nerve to want to use a cart due to a degenerative disease he was born with which affected his ability to walk long distances. Suddenly, walking and stamina were humongous parts of the game, except for the many exceptions that came up during the controversy.

John Daly must have missed that memo during the brief stretch in which he dominated the game.

Forget about the fact that golf is simply an unbelievably boring, slow moving game. Forget the fact that it’s on sports channels only for the type of advertising it attracts geared toward the rich and wannabe rich that actually watch the sport. Ignore how those covering the game can’t wait to interject stories about their own time on the lynx, making their feigned passion for the eloquence of the game a transparent effort to live the country club dream of playing on “the tour” vicariously through their media duties.

Look to the “Quiet Please” signs when the so-called athletes are taking their shot. Their example alone proves golf is not a sport. Imagine for a moment Larry Bird hushing the Forum crowd before taking free throws in the Finals. It’s impossible to imagine, of course, because it’s just that absurd.

Even the greats of golf say it’s a game of solitude. If it wasn’t for all of the trappings, no one would be watching a bunch of middle-aged men knock a little white ball around until they, oh, so quietly, tap it into a whole.

Golf is not a sport.

And that in itself isn’t wrong.

But Sunday’s incident was merely the latest reminder that it’s more than a game. It’s a status symbol. It continues to be rooted in a country club mentality that says, “I’m better than you because my friends and I say so.” It’s snobbery personified.

It’s history is one of racism, prejudice, elitism, and a sense of entitlement. Only the entitled hold such a tradition close to the heart. In fact, the only change in golf has been forced upon it, and those changes are clearly superficial alterations the keepers of golf would tear down like cheap curtains if only they could get away with it. While their official statements must contradict ignorant comments or tweets from their patrons or wannabe patrons like the one quoted above, their actions continue to prove that they privately feel the same way.

And, no, that’s not ok just because the clubs hosting the events can hide behind the idea that they’re private.

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