I was watching Oregon v Oklahoma at the NCAA West Regional Final on CBS over the weekend. One of the promotions on the broadcast was for the USGA & PGA’s Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals. Staged for ages 7-15, viewers were prompted to “find a local qualifier near you to register.”
You wonder how sports promote themselves to the next generation? Well, that’s one way. Plus, the DCP National Finals were featured on the Golf Channel, too. Imagine how that might draw new converts as tour pros and Bush 43 Secretary of State Condi Rice were on hand as enthusiastic supporters.
USATF does partner with Hershey for its own Run Jump & Throw national program, “a hands-on learning program that gets kids excited about physical activity by introducing them to the basic running, jumping and throwing skills through track and field”. But the RJT doesn’t have a competition component, nor does it have a professional wing like the PGA to help drive participation and help pay for such broad promotions as advertising on the NCAA basketball tournament telecast.
Funny how closely sport mirrors society at large. On Sunday the New York Times quoted ex-WADA head Dick Pound on the precarious position the sport of athletics has put itself in over the last generation:
“The public is getting pretty inured to the fact that competitions are fixed, and they will stop watching and then sponsors will stop sponsoring and it could all go down the tubes.”
Jeez, you think?
But isn’t that exactly the same cynicism that is fueling Donald Trump’s march to the Republican nomination, and that is keeping Bernie Sanders competitive in the Dem race against Hillary Clinton? The public believes we live in an age of fraud, be it in the realm of government, religion, business, or sport. Until a level of trust is reestablished, no institution will be immune from the hand-washing cynicism that threatens to unsettle life and society in the 21st century.
The sport of tennis found itself embroiled in a volley of sexism charges last week after controversial comments were made by a prominent tournament director in California and then world’s top men’s player. The issue centered on the commercial value of women vis-à-vis men in the sport.
As the tennis story played out, leading to the resignation of Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore, and some serious back-pedaling by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, into the controversy strode women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe of England. According to Paula “other sports could learn from track in providing equal pay for men and women.”
Talk about diamonds and rust. Yes, athletics pays equal for men and women, equal sh*t. You don’t think both genders in athletics wouldn’t swap their equal pay for the short stick in tennis? Any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. And don’t forget, while $6 billion is raised through the Olympic Games, the athletes perform for shiny objects. Perhaps there is something inherently unfair with that arrangement, too.