The Old Coach Sez


Watching the Masters golf tournament this year brought to mind the big difference between golf and most other sports. On two occasions, participants in the tournament were addressing the ball to putt when the ball moved ever so slightly. In one case, even the TV cameras couldn’t catch it. Both golfers, one of whom was in the running to be close to the top, called a penalty on themselves.

Thus the huge difference between golf and other sports. In football, players get away with as much holding, illegal blocking, and other punishable behavior as they can. It now takes several officials to police the game. We even have coaches who will secretly and illegally film opposing teams’ signals. Can you imagine a lineman coming up to the the referee and saying, “I broke the rule, I held my opponent and should be penalized”?

Basketball players and baseball players also do their best to get by with breaking the rules without being caught. Spitballs and pine tar are illegal aspects of ‘America’s Game,’ but we make light of it when players are caught cheating in this manner. Young people watching and playing sports are taught to get away with as much as possible to win. I can’t imagine a basketball player telling the referee that he/she is guilty of a foul or a baseball player saying the tag was put on him before he reached the base.

The front page of a recent USA Today reads, “Sports: Fib seals Johnson’s NASCAR win.” It goes on to say that Jimmy Johnson bagged his first Sprint Cup win after his crew’s white lie kept him on the track. Win at any cost, right?

The message in organized sports is to get by with whatever you can in the effort to win. In golf, the message is to win while still playing within the rules.

Another positive as far as the sport of golf is concerned is the fact that course owners seldom go to the public to build courses with taxpayer dollars. In the three ‘major league’ sports, billionaire owners hold cities hostage until they get millions in public funds to build elaborate stadiums so they can make still more money.

More information appears in this weeks issue of the Messenger.