Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman, and the LIV Tour – of which I have zero connection – have been turned into political hot potatoes by some hypocritical, sanctimonious, analysts and pundits.
Brandel Chamblee, of the NBC-owned Golf Channel, has been one of the loudest and most hypocritical. Of Mickelson and Norman, Chamblee recently tweeted for them to be removed from the Golf Hall of Fame.
Said the former journeyman golfer: “As far as I know, it’s never happened that an athlete has been kicked out of their Hall Of Fame but both Norman & Mickelson should be removed from the Hall Of Fame. They’ve dishonored the game & they threaten to destroy the game that they have both so enormously profited from. ”
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Just this past February as the Winter Olympics – being covered by NBC Sports, the owner of the Golf Channel – were winding down in China, Chamblee launched an early broadside against Mickelson – who he clearly dislikes on a personal level – by tweeting on the Golf Channel site:
“It was not obnoxious greed by the PGA Tour that opened the door, to use Mickelson’s phrase, for a potential Saudi-backed rival league. It was the never-ending stream of human atrocities, such as the butchering and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, of which the Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, which sponsors this week’s Saudi International event, has been accused of abetting. Horrors such as that are hard to hide and impossible to ignore, which compelled the Saudis to engage in the calculated deception commonly known as sports-washing… ”
Chamblee’s example involved the 2018 assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian operatives in Turkey, a crime that should never be forgotten. Chamblee managed to weave that crime into the body of his diatribe against Mickelson, because Mickelson – along with a host of other major golf stars – played in the Saudi International event in Saudi Arabia.
Chamblee is free to make this point. What I find incredibly disingenuous and hypocritical is his audacity to cite a “never-ending stream of human atrocities” and “horrors such as that are hard to hide” while ignoring perhaps the greatest human rights abuse of our time: China’s imprisoning, torture, and killing of thousands of Uyghurs and other Muslims in its Xinjiang province forced labor camps.
To be sure, Khashoggi’s murder was horrific, but if the despicable killing of one human being is “impossible to ignore,” what would Chamblee, Eamon Lynch, and the other pundits attacking Mickelson and Norman call the torture and killing of those thousands in China ?
Oh, wait a minute. Let me try to connect the dots. NBC broadcast the Olympics from China and made hundreds of millions of dollars. NBC owns the Golf Channel. Chamblee works for the Golf Channel.
Could NBC’s interest in the PGA Tour be driving the criticism?
So… Mickelson, Norman, and LIV Golf bad. Imprisonment, torture, and killing in China… ignored. But, to paraphrase Chamblee, wouldn’t that be called “profit, self-interest, or Sport-washing?”
Will Chamblee, Lynch and the others next condemn every Big-Tech company; US corporation; PGA sponsor; PGA tour-affiliated event in China; or other sports leagues currently doing business with China?
Professional golf is at a tipping point. It can get better or much worse.
Personal grudges and partisan politics should play no role regarding the future well-being of the game.
No one should turn a blind eye to human rights abuses – anywhere. Just as no one should cherry-pick some to settle scores.
PGA Tour should not punish Brooks Koepka, defecting players
As more and more marquee PGA players, such as Jupiter’s Brooks Koepka, opt to sign with LIV Golf, the PGA must not punish them. For in doing so, they are ultimately punishing golf fans who want to see the best players in the world.
Additionally, as Patrick Cantlay and Harris English just alluded to, the PGA Tour should seriously consider better payouts for its members on each of its tours. On Wednesday, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, addressing the LIV Tour, boosted prize money in eight elite events.
At the moment, the PGA Tour is awash in money. But, if the organization continues to make knee-jerk reactionary decisions such as banning players to “protect” its tour, it may soon find itself with fewer star players, much less money and an uncertain future.
The PGA Tour should embrace LIV Golf and its handful of tournaments while engaging in serious discussions, possibly even considering guaranteed salaries for its members.
As that is happening, the sanctimonious and scolding “we are better than you” pundits out there, might want to turn their clouded tunnel-vision toward China and then pontificate about those thousands of imprisoned, tortured, and lost lives.
Douglas MacKinnon is a former White House and Pentagon official and author of the book: “The 56 – Liberty Lessons from those who risked all to sign The Declaration of Independence.”