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Golf and the Olympics

Update: April, 24/2016 - 09:00
 
Viet Nam News

By Robert Bicknell

Golf and the Olympics generates mixed emotions for many people. Some people think the Olympics should remain for “amateurs” only, while others believe the best of the best should participate because medal count is more important than tradition.

Why should it be amateur only?In my view, the Olympic Games are something that amateur athletes train their entire lives for. They work like dogs to reach Olympic level and winning a gold medal would be the highest honor they could achieve. If they did nothing else with their life afterwards, they could still point to the hunk of gold. Silver or bronze on their mantel and say, “I won an Olympic medal.”

Professionals, on the other hand, couldn’t give a rat’s ass either way. It’s just another day at work for them. They play for money and amass titles. Their careers are measured in dollars earned and the size of their contracts. A medal for them is just another hunk or hardware for the trophy case, but it doesn’t mean all that much.

Enter Adam Scott, who shocked many by declaring himself unavailable for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio. Many were mortified that one of their own countrymen would think so little of representing the flag.

Actually, Adam Scott’s reply was quite accurate and demonstrates the huge difference between a professional athlete and an amateur.

"Whether I win an Olympic medal or not is not going to define my career or change whether I’ve fulfilled my career," Scott said last year. To someone like him, it would feel like an "an exhibition event".

You cannot eat an Olympic medal and it sure isn’t golf’s fifth major, so in all fairness, why would this even matter to a professional golfer or any other athlete?

When the USA fielded the “Dream Team” (Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, etc) it was fun to watch, but a complete blow-out. These are the best professionals in the world who were basically kicking the crap out of every amateur they faced. It wasn’t even close.

Now, imagine you’re a top college athlete and you’ve been working like hell to make the Olympic team, only to be told, “Sorry kid, we have some multi-millionaires who want to be able to tell their kids they did something for their country.” Sucks, eh?

These guys don’t even need the medal. They’re multi-millionaires already. Their careers will not be defined by having an Olympic medal or not.

But, an Olympic Medal could launch an amateur’s career as a professional. It could change his entire life.

My other gripe is the way countries regard medal counts as the holy grail. They will do almost anything to ensure they come out on top. It’s like the Olympics has replaced war in some cases.

OK, granted, it is a form of nationalistic competition, but nobody dies in it and it provides some good television (from time to time). What disappoints me is when a host country will purposely not include a sport that they have no chance of winning, despite world wide popularity, and substitute something they CAN win at.

Is that fair or not?

To me, I would much rather see the best amateur golfers in the world teeing it up at the Olympics than to see the same professional faces going through the motions for a week, while knowing they are already thinking about the following week’s tournament – especially if a Major is coming up.

As any Tour professional if they would rather have an Olympic medal or a green jacket? How about a Claret Jug? They would think you have severe brain damage.

A major comes with a lifetime (or 10 - 20 year exemption);  a huge paycheck; increased marketing potential; and a huge notch on your gun belt. The monkey is truly off your back.

Nobody wants to be the BPNTHWAM (Best Player To Never Win A Major), but I guarantee you they could care less if someone named them BPNTHWAOM (Best Player To Never Have Won An Olympic Medal).

The Olympics was conceived as an amateur sport and, to be honest, it should remain that way. Professionals are jaded. A trophy doesn’t mean much to us, it’s the money and what comes with it that’s important. This is how we earn a living.

Adam Scott is 100 per cent correct. -- VNS

 

 

 

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