Monday, April 12, 2010

Virtue and Virtuosity


Of all the "gentlemanly" sports (cricket, polo, tennis), the one that is the most objectionably snobbish must certainly be golf. It costs more for an individual to play a round of golf than probably any other sporting activity short of car racing. It lays waste enormous stretches of land that are made useless for any other purpose. Until very recently, the sport was the private preserve of white upper class males who have since reluctantly permitted non-Whites and women to play. It is a spectator sport for fellow golfers. Otherwise it is about as spectacular as watching grass die.

The supposedly unwanted (not to mention unwarranted) attention that Tiger Woods is getting over his erratic* behavior off the green, which his entrepreneurial girlfriends have made public, is the best thing to happen to golf since rain, and will only make Woods even richer than Croesus.

I dislike sports for the very same reason why most people seem to love it so much: its facility. It is all right there on the surface. It has no depths. It cannot seem - it merely is. It does not tell a story. It has nothing to say. And it is exactly such mindlessness that the mass audience desires most. "Make me forget myself," they cry out, "and I will reward you so far beyond your merit that it will make a mockery of all reward and of all merit.

Occasionally people need to be reminded that Tiger Woods is extravagantly wealthy because he can knock a little white ball over great distances with a crooked metal or wooden rod into a little hole in fewer knocks than anyone else in the world. That is his sole contribution to humanity. It is, in fact, too easy to dislike golf. But just because it is too easy to do, like saying that George W. Bush is stupid, it does not make it inaccurate or even unnecessary.


*Woods was behaving erratically, for a superstar, not when he fooled around but when he committed himself to one woman.

No comments: