Not Sure Which Golf Tour to Watch? You’ll LIV

People who know my sports fandom know I'm a big advocate for quantity. I want 18 football leagues. I want 87 intriguing sporting events to choose from every second of the day.

People who know me also know, I hope, that I'm an empathetic, conscientious person who does not condone man's inhumanity to man.

So what side do I come down on with respect to the LIV golf tour controversy?

Caring about human rights the way I do, I have often thought to myself that, were I a famous athlete with enough influence to make a small bit of difference, and I played a sport (such as golf or tennis) that is played around the world, I would not play events in places like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Qatar.

Are those the only three countries with terrible human rights records? Nope. Would I play in other countries that have terrible human rights records? Quite possibly. So, am I not just saying that I am a rank hypocrite?

That depends on your point of view, but I hold the following two statements to be true.

1) It's good to boycott some evil entities, even if you do not boycott all evil entities.

2) You don't have to choose between embracing all forms of evil or becoming an ascetic monk.

That's my preemptive response to anyone saying, "Ohhhh, so you will watch candlepin bowling, where candlepins are made by slave labor in third world countries*, but LIV golf is just a bridge too far? Whatever, hypocrite."

However, this response is a touch misleading, because while I wouldn't play events in the Middle East if I was an influential athlete, and while I didn't happen to catch any of the first LIV event this weekend, I am probably going to watch LIV golf in the future and I have no plans on staying away out of principle.

I am a golf fan and I have been all of my life; this fandom was nurtured by my uncle, a certifiable golf nut. He watched every second of every tournament on air, and was a low handicap golfer in his own right. He passed away in 1991, and I'm sad he missed the advent of entities like the Golf Channel. My stepdad was also loved to hit the links.

What makes us a slight anomaly among golf families is we were working class. I had a childhood of reduced-price school lunches, not trips to Europe.

That anomaly is important for this reason: golf is not a very popular TV sport. It doesn't get good ratings. The reason, however, it nevertheless commands network coverage most weekends is because the people that do like and watch golf are largely rich. This allows the networks to charge advertising fees more in line with higher-rated events, because companies looking to lure rich people will pay it.

This is also why the networks do things like interview the tourney's sponsors CEO or spokesman every Sunday, even though that's an interview that literally zero people outside of the company care about.

For the companies that sponsor elite golf tournaments, buy advertising during their telecasts, or are otherwise involved in the professional golf infrastructure — to assume that human rights abuses in the name of profit-making happens for most of these companies is a VERRRRRY safe bet.

To put it more bluntly, there are already gallons and gallons of blood money in golf. LIV didn't invent that part.

Hell, the European PGA tour already holds an event in Saudi Arabia, in a new, planned city bankrolled by the Saudi Kingdom.

The PGA tour doesn't, but if they were to take a hardline stance against accepting any advertising money from a company with any sketchy human rights/labor exploitation records, they would lose 95% of their advertisers. Which is to say, that would never dream of taking such a stance.

Which is further to say that the PGA Tours remonstrations against the LIV tour has nothing to do with human rights, only to do with protected their slice of the world golf pie; they are right to think that LIV represents a threat to that.

As such, as a consumer of television golf, I see no reason to gnash my teeth and rend my garments over the amorality or immorality the LIV tour represents, when it isn't a meaningful departure from the amorality and immorality that makes the PGA Tour viable as a television product that can pay their winners millions and that I've been watching my entire life.

So ... I guess I'll see you at Pumpkin Ridge June 30th.

*This probably isn't true.

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