Every four years a corrupt organization called the International Olympic Committee hosts a sports shindig called the Olympics, which before 1986 used to be a world-wide showcase for amateur athletes to compete, but due to the will-to-win by cheating from countries such as Russia, Germany and Japan, the rules were changed to allow professional athletes to compete.
If there is one word that dogs the Olympics its “controversy.” From charges of bribery, doping scandals, steroid abuse, failed drug testing and financial mismanagement, the IOC has evolved from a system that once-defined pure amateur athlete into a toxic, obsessive love of money where, everything is for sale. Yes, the five ring Olympic myth is for sale in partnership with your VISA card, and this year’s $4 billion debacle is scheduled August 6 – 20 in Rio de Janeiro, featuring 120 sports and 120 countries.
Golf has not been “Olympic” since 1904, so the powers-that-be in golf decided that the best way to grow the game internationally is to offer the sport to approximately one billion televised viewers. However, this delusional plan to grow the game is ripe with obstacles. Here are my top-10 reasons for top professional golfers to avoid the Olympics: (1) No money, no glory, no problem, but safety issues are real; (2) Zika virus health threat; (3) Water contamination problems throughout Brazil; (4) 72-hole stroke play event is exactly like a fifth World Golf Championship without money; (5) 30 of the 60 players eligible you might never know; (6) 15 – 20 guys you do know will be considered “bums” by their countrymen if they don’t win a medal; (7) three majors (US Open, British Open & PGA) bumped into whirlwind blur of 46 days; (8) FedEx Cup and Ryder Cup schedule within a six-week window; (9) No galleries or buzz while competing on an wretched Rio golf course where golf isn’t established; (10) 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics golf medal decathlete winner Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner will be hitting the ceremonial first tee shot.
The short-and-smart list of high-profile players who have opted out of the Rio Olympic Games nonsense include Australia’s Adam Scott, South African’s Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and Fiji’s Vijay Singh. Who cares if they win a gold medal? How could a medal possibly boost their careers? And, why should they care about giving back to the game that has made them rich and famous? In fact, they are already established true, proud heroes and world ambassadors from their respective countries?
If the Lords of the Rings came calling today, the U.S. would be represented by Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson. Watson has already expressed skepticism saying “that playing for gold is not in my mindset at all.” I don’t buy the argument that these young players are interested in lighting a spark in golf-dark countries. Rory McIlroy has reluctantly committed to play for Ireland, even though he’s in a lose-lose situation. You don’t go and caught holy-hell, but with expectations high won’t McIlroy catch grief if he doesn’t win a medal? For the top players, you have to wonder with a 2015 – 2016 PGA Tour wraparound season offering nearly $330 million in prize money, what good comes from an inconvenient two-week trip to Rio for the possibility of winning a medal.
With a condensed major’s season upon us, mid-June is a career-altering time to get hot. The high anticipation of the Day-Spieth-Rory-Rickie joust for supremacy should create a climate of high TV ratings for the majors and FedEx Cup, but little appetite for Olympic golf in early August, sandwiched in between.
Before a few more superstar players drop out, I wonder if NBC TV plans to show Olympic golf before synchronized swimming or perhaps after watching a riveting round of ping-pong.
(Tom Gorman, a Boston-based golf writer for 24 years, will be one of those expected one billion TV viewers watching the Rio Games.)
Click HERE to see what Tim Geary has to say…