Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Why the LPGA Deserves Better
Professional golf is one of America's most popular sports to watch and play, and while men and women do both, women's professional golf must still fight for legitimacy, attention, and dollars most of the time. Even as the women's game continues to evolve in skill and style, much of what male golfers enjoy in terms of sponsorship, payouts, television viewership, and respect is still in frustratingly short supply for the women routinely duking it out on the LPGA. It's high time that changed. Here are six reasons the LPGA deserves more credit than it gets.
1. It's Great Golf...
Whether you routinely stack up credit card rewards points in order to take in PGA games in person or you're just a devotee of televised golf, if you've never watched professional female golfers at work, it might be tempting to write them off as participating in a lesser game. While it's true that the fairways are shorter on the LPGA, the true spirit of the sport is still honored and on full display when the finest women golfers in the world are competing.
Golf is a game of skill, concentration, mental toughness, and the ability to roll with the unexpected. Regardless of whether the player is male or female -- if he or she has talent and has put in the time to hone that talent -- the result is exciting golf. The players on the LPGA shouldn't be watched because they need a leg up; they should be watched because the thrill of the game is present when they're playing.
2. ...With Great Stories
Like all professional sports, golf is made more interesting given the dynamics at work in the individuals playing. From Tiger Woods infamous fall from grace both on and off the golf course to Annika Sorenstam's attempt to make it onto the PGA circuit back in 2003, golf is a game of stories that range from engaging to titillating. There are rivalries, disputes, and days-long battles with lead changes occurring at almost every hole -- in the men's and women's games. If you like golf because of the drama it provides, the LPGA can also deliver.
3. The Law of Supply and Demand
In a capitalistic society, the law of supply and demand -- for the most part -- holds sway, which means: sports that get the most attention are also the sports that generate the most money, and the more money a sport has, the bigger that sport's marketing budget, which, in turn, yields a greater attention and more money. The women playing professional golf make much less money than the men do, even though the winning is just as difficult to come by. Giving the LPGA the attention it deserves would generate more money, which would mean better paychecks and better attention -- something the players definitely deserve.
4. Interest in Playing Golf Is Declining
Managers and owners of golf courses and country clubs across the country have noticed that fewer and fewer people are hitting the links. Whether the decreasing interest is due to Netflix binges or to millennials' lack of interest in dress codes, it appears that golf's Golden Age is in the past. One way golf lovers can counteract this declining interest is to try and get women more interested in it. Golf is a game everyone can play. By getting girls and women more interested in the sport, it's possible that the game as a popular pastime could once again have a resurgence.
5. Girls and Boys Need It
While sexism in many parts of American society seems to be on the decline, women still face many hurdles men do not. Whether it's bring paid less to do the same work, facing difficulties when it comes to reproductive choice and health, or being more at risk to suffer violence from an intimate partner, being female in America is no simple matter. For girls and boys growing up in this society, then, seeing women achieve excellence in anything -- including golf -- makes expecting and believing in such excellence commonplace, which is something that will assist women's ongoing quest for true equality.
6. They're Underdogs
In the United States, underdogs are held in high and holy esteem. Whether it's the 16th seed during March Madness looking to take down a No. 1 or a Jamaican bobsled team at the Winter Olympics, Americans love to cheer for anyone who isn't expected to win. While the women of the LPGA are excellent at what they do, they're still underdogs in the world of golf and professional sports. As lovers of underdogs, watching and cheering on the women of the LPGA is one of the most American things a golf fan can do.
So give yourself the chance to love golf even more. Watch the women of the LPGA for the drama, the excellence, the potential for social change, and much more.