Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dogs and Golf Part II: Can they really be considered elite athletes?

Below you can read Part I of this series. The first thing that's really been burning me up lately is dogs. The second thing is game of golf.

I know that many people play golf. Men and women, young and old, middle class, upper class, not so much lower class. Many businessmen play golf with potential clients. Many older men play to relax and get some peace and quiet. Many women play because they are good at it and its enjoyable. That is all fine. But as I think about all these people that play golf, are they really considered athletes? Is what they're doing really considered a sport? Is it really an athletic endeavor? I turned on my TV to ESPN last weekend just to see what was on and unfortunately they had golf on for the next several hours. It was the Masters tournament. The guys that compete in the Masters are the best in the world. They are called elite athletes. As I looked at these guys for a few moments before changing the channel I noticed something. Almost all them looked out of shape. They had protruding, pot-belly guts, moobs (that's man-boobs for those that don't know), they walked like ducks, and they had a defeated looking, sulking stature. Does this fit the description of an elite athlete? At the time there was a 60 year old in the top five of the tournament standings. A 60 year old. Can a guy that's 60 years old truly be one of the best at something that is considered an athletic endeavor? Is this honestly a sport if a 60 year old is competitive against 25 year old's? I watched for a few more moments. Here's what a physical task golf is. A guy hits his golf ball. Then he gets in a cart and rides to wherever his ball landed. If its a short distance and he walks, someone else carries his clubs. And these are the professionals. Can this really be in the same category as football, basketball, baseball, soccer, hockey, tennis, or even marching band? I was in marching band and I can tell you that there is far more energy expended doing that than there is in playing golf.

Tiger Woods was named the Athlete of the Decade for 2000-2009. He was by far the best golfer of the decade and he is an extraordinary athlete. But playing golf is not what make him a great athlete. The way he trains does. He would probably be great in any sport if he chose to focus on that from an early age. He physically works his body the way elite athletes are supposed to. But do you know why he's so dominant at the game of golf? Because he's competing against fat guys, slow guys, guys who eat too much fried food, guys who are sedentary when they're not hitting golf balls, guys who have man boobs, and 60 year old's! Can someone really be the greatest athlete across an entire decade when this is his competition? The guy who won the Masters this year, by the way, Phil Mickelson, seems like a really nice guy. And he's had to persevere through his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer. Congratulations to him for winning this year's Masters. I respect him as a person. But he looks like he's about ten years removed from being in really good physical shape (see photo below). And there are other professionals in far worse shape. Its clear that being in top notch physical condition is not a requirement for being good golfer. This makes the game of golf different from almost everything else that is considered a sport (the exception is Nascar, don't even get me started on that).

I don't mind that a lot of people play golf. I have no problem with how much they enjoy it. But let's stop kidding ourselves. Stop calling it a sport. Stop calling the people that play it athletes. And please stop calling the professional golfers elite athletes! It's a skill, but not a sport. And on the continuum of things that are athletic endeavors its somewhere in between watering the azaleas and checking the mail.


  1. Well if golf is considered a "sport" then so is, lets just say, throwing Darts. I think the term sport is ok because it implies competition and physical activity (albeit very little as in golf or darts). There is no denying that not just anyone can do what professional golfers do. Their psycho motor set of skills are well developed for a certain area.

    This is what unites all "sports" I think. Having the talent and ability to perform a certain physical act time and time again in a competitive manner. Whether its shooting three pointers or pushing a pedal while steering.

    That, however, is where all the similarities end. I totally agree with you that golfers are not athletes. It is a joke to consider them to be elite athletes. Then again its a joke that you don't get P.E. credit for marching band everyday but you do for bowling every other day.

  2. I meant to say "in a consistent competitive manner".

    P.S. I think golf is stupid and view it really as more of a tool of relaxation for old farts or a badge of elite coolness for rich farts.

  3. That's a good point about the term "sport". It is a pretty broad term. I do think there are lots of motor skill sets but don't consider all to be "athletic" in nature. I've always maintained that marching band involves much more physical activity than many things considered sport. The same could be said for dance. I wonder if it's because marching band and dance are also very artistic in nature that neither is really considered sport? Alas....

  4. Haha. That's just what we would need. Athletes to be considered Artists!