Friday, June 8, 2012

Teeing Off

One of these things is not like the others. The others are world class athletes, you see. But that one thing, in the Polo shirt and baseball cap, fist-pumping and screaming to throngs of wealthy white people because he just took an elongated kitchen utensil and aggressively tapped(?) a petrified ping-pong ball, he's merely a golfer. He's golfy. He golfs. 

ESPN just ran the above graphic with the caption: 
"Who is the most CLUTCH athlete in sports right now and why? 
            Woods, Pierce, Durant, Manning, and Bryant...all clutch players in their own right. But which current athlete is the MOST clutch. State your case."

Why, thank you. 

Golf is not a sport on the level of basketball, football, soccer, baseball, or hockey, the other sports appearing on ESPN. Tiger Woods is not an athlete. Tiger Woods is a man in excellent physical condition who, rather than taking advantage of that physicality, plays golf. Every time I've had this argument with golfing friends, the immediate defense is the same---"Have you ever played? It's tough. You're walking all that way, it's hot, it takes focus. It ain't easy." Let's break that down: 

Miyagi don't golf
Have you ever played? Yes. I was horrible. Bad form. Shanked balls. Some shots never even got off the ground. I put so many divots in the grass with my club I might as well have been using a hatchet. But I only played the one time, found it boring, and didn't continue. Like anything in sports, or life really, I imagine if one does it consistently they will improve. Case and point: if you frequent country clubs, see women as second class citizens, reference people of color exclusively through derogatory terminology, wear visors, put a Romney bumper sticker on your car, your wife's car, and that of your mistress, you'll not only be an exceptional asshole, but probably a hell of a golfer. 

It's tough. I suppose. Know what's also tough: draining a three with a hand in your face; driving the lane, absorbing contact, and hitting the shot; gaining yardage while maintaining possession of a ball, AND, avoiding 11 grown men who want nothing more than to cripple you; skating at 10-15 miles an hour while dodging toothless barbarians who navigate ice no less gracefully than ballerinas, THEN whipping a puck into a net that's being protected by an evil bus of a man; running for three hours using only your feet as everyone else is kicking your shins. Pretty tough. 

You're walking all that way, you're hot, it takes focus. This one slays me. You ever walk from Publix to your car in Tallahassee? It's fucking hot, boss. It's sweaty hot. Things rub together. Things happen that you don't talk about. Your ice cream melts. That's not a euphemism. You'll seriously lose a pint if you didn't get a primo parking spot up front. Know what else takes focus? Bank shots in billiards. Tell you what, I'm going to tweak a scenario my buddy James offered years ago:

I'll go to San Francisco. Lots of hills. Not a flat space, you agree? Good. I'll take a pool cue. I'll stand on a corner, and with all my might, I'll swing that fucker. I'll grunt, and you can moan, "ooooohhhhh", as you do. Then, I'll walk a country mile to some bar and sink a bank shot. I'll do this 18 times. When I'm done, I'll be so hot, and I'll be so tired. Know what I will not be strictly because of this exercise? An athlete. Focussed. Hot. Lots of walking. Not an athlete. 

It ain't easy. Also not easy: trunk stands, playing chess really well, bowling a 300, running the table in 9-ball, writing a great poem/story/essay, reading Ulysses, being a parent, playing a round of disc golf with a hangover, lesson planning, sitting through a Tyler Perry movie, maintaining a good mood for ALL of AWP, breakups, kayaking, finding the perfect shower caddy, successful baking. 

I've long theorized that the reason golf is included, and so revered, on ESPN is because it allows old talking heads to occupy a space of athletics. If golf is a sport, and golfers are athletes, then when Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd and Michael Wilbon play golf they are playing a sport, and they are athletes. See how this works? And if those cats want to sip scotch, suck in their guts for photos on the links, and call golf a gladiatorial game at dinner parties, I've no problem with that. Just don't go throwing pics up all willy nilly, and comparing professionals who don't occupy the same realm. The rest of us are here trying to enjoy sports. 

1 comment:

  1. Can you be called "clutch" in a sport where there is no real competition except yourself? I think clutch refers to when you're behind the other team and that one shot is highly important. Golf sucks.