A Gentlemen’s Game?
July 26, 2011 by Paul Foeller • Print Story •
Golf is one of the few sports that was not only founded as, but also continues to be known as, a gentlemen's game. In the minds of golf purists, a perfect golfer would be one handles both victory and defeat with grace and dignity.
Most casual fans of golf view the sport as one — and perhaps the only one — that still requires more of a man or woman than simply talent alone. The sport appears to be, by all accounts, a more civilized and controlled game than perhaps any other.
This is why so many find the sport so appealing and comforting — and it's also why the majority of sports fans only watch the highlights the next morning rather than a good chunk of the live coverage.
For better or worse, the reputation of golf as a calm and peaceful game has led to the disinterest of the majority of sports fans. The most popular sports, like football and soccer, involve copious amounts of running and occasionally violent collisions.
Today's average sports fan revels in grown men pummeling each other, and would rather see some blood, sweat, and tears in their sport than just about anything else.
This leads to the conclusion that golf has lost out on the ability to gain the attention of the modern sports fan, mostly because it's a game for gentlemen. But is it really?
No one in the history of golf has been nearly as popular as Tiger Woods, and he was — and perhaps still is — far from a gentlemen. You may think to yourself, "But that's just one guy, and he's not even in the top 20 in the world anymore," and you'd be correct.
But it would also be asinine to think for even a single second that none of the most popular golfers in the world — both in the present and in the past — have been guilty of similar indiscretions. As a matter of fact, it's probably terribly naïve to believe that there aren't quite a few such golfers.
Sure, they carry themselves with a sense of proper decorum while in the public eye, but then again, so do most of those in public office. Now raise your hand if you think there aren't any Senators with something to hide.
If you're currently holding your hand in the air, I can safely assume that you've either been living under a rock your entire life or that you're no older than 10 — perhaps both.
We know golf as a gentlemen's game, but maybe this is nothing more than a misconception. Maybe the self-absorbed, money-crazed, partiers don't all play in the NFL or NBA.
This isn't to say that we should assume that any one specific person in golf is guilty of such things, just that it's outrageous to believe that no one in golf is. The point is that the percentage of players of the sport who choose to act in almost unfathomably selfish and stupid ways is probably a lot closer to the percentage of such players in other sports than most people realize.
Golf may seem like a gentlemen's game, and it may in fact be one for the most part. But if you choose to skip over television broadcasts of golf because you think it's a sport for a bunch of squeaky-clean, boring old guys, you may just need to sit in the gallery at major and listen to the reactions from some famous golfers. Because the network censors should get paid overtime for that job.
It's hard to determine if golf really is a gentlemen's game, and quite frankly at times I agree with both people who think it is and people who think it isn't. Golf may not be a wild, lawless sports arena where anything goes, but it's also far from the boring sport it's gained a reputation for being.