The NFL has attempted to introduce Europe to our brand of football for several years and it hasn’t gotten much traction. NFL Europe was a total failure and finally collapsed.
And each year, while the NFL plays a regular season game in London (this year it featured our Patriots against the Tampa Bay Bucs), it’s never really taken root. The annual game always sells out but it’s more a novelty than a trend.
Baseball has done very well in expanding its horizons, but nowhere has there been a more dramatic global sports explosion than golf.
Over the past decade golf has burst onto the scene in the most bizarre of locations (Mongolia?).
It has become a world wide sport, so why not include it in the Olympics?
In 2016 Rio de Janeiro will host the summer (even though it’ll be winter in the southern hemisphere) games and golf will be on the docket.
Great. Why not golf? If they can include ball room dancing in the Olympics they can certainly find room for golf, which in essence is nothing more than a more physical and extended version of archery (in fact most bulls eyes are larger in size than the 4.25 inches of a cup).
I’m sure there are arguments against golf (one of which sits just to the left of this column) being in The Games, but I can’t come up with any.
We already know that the world’s best players hold international competition in the highest regard and many would love to be able to compete for an Olympic golf medal.
For all of his success and his huge bank account Tiger Woods does not have an Olympic medal in his trophy case. Think he’d like one?
The obvious argument against having golf in The Games is timing. The Summer Olympics are held right smack dab in the middle of the golf season, when the various tours are very involved.
Sponsors (and they are dwindling right now) may take exception to the game’s best players leaving to head down to Rio for a couple of weeks but that’s just too bad.
Woods, who will be almost 40 when he gets a shot at a gold medal, doesn’t play in too many regular events now.
The key will be timing. There will have to be some coordination between the pro tours and the International Olympic Committee.
For example, they could not go head-to-head with any of golf’s majors nor the Ryder Cup matches, but other than that it should not be difficult to work out.
How the competition is set up could be the major sticking point. Would it be match or medal play? Would it be team play or individual?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m old school. I don’t like the idea of professionals competing in the Olympics. An Olympic medal should be the highlight of any athlete’s career, but let’s be realistic; no professional golfer would trade a major title for an Olympic gold.
In my lifetime there has been no greater moment than the U.S. hockey team, made up of a bunch of college kids, shocking the Soviet Union at Lake Placid, and winning the gold.
But I’m also pragmatic and understand that nobody is going to get excited about watching the 2006 Walker and Curtis Cup teams play in the Olympics.
So it’ll be pros from the various countries taking part and while it won’t be in keeping with the ideals that the Baron de Coubertin set forth when he reintroduced The Games early in the 20th century, it’s still going to be wonderful competition.
There is much to be worked out, but with so many countries producing so many outstanding players, it just makes sense to include golf in the Olympics.
(Tim Geary is a freelance writer based in Rhode Island)
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