Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Tom Friedman wrecks my lunch hour

Not particularly unusual, of course, although the manner in which he did so today was a twist. Taking a break from the Real Job and Rovemania at lunch today, I opened my new issue of Golf Digest to find this:

The new national pastime

By Thomas L. Friedman

An article in which Tom Terrific argues that baseball has surrendered the title of America's Game to golf, filled with treasures such as:

Let's be honest. Hasn't golf really replaced baseball as America's national pastime? Of course it has.

I know, some of you are upset by that assertion--even some of the golfers among you. But before you throw a high fastball at my chin, let me at least make my argument for why golf has clearly become the quintessential American sport--the sport that today most accurately reflects not only who we are as a country, but who we aspire to be.
Then there is the deeper Zen of both games. Golf is so much more . . . well, American than baseball in terms of its inner spirit. To begin with, it is an individual game in a country built by individualists. Indeed, there is no sport that more rewards individual merit than golf. A professional baseball player hitting only .230 can make $1 million a year on a three-year contract. A professional golfer who averages just one stroke per round higher than the tour average probably will go hungry.

To this day, professional golfers, like the pioneers and pilgrims who founded this country, eat only what they kill.
Golf is actually the sport most in sync with today's American economy--a post-industrial service economy. As Michael Mandelbaum, the author of The Meaning of Sports, observed: "When people worked on farms, they were too spread out to play golf. When they worked in factories, they were too tired to play golf. Now that they work in offices, they have the time and the incentive to play golf, because it is one of the few ways that they can still get exercise--even as they age."
So c'mon, sing it with me now: "Take me out to the golf course, take me out to the links, buy me some Pro V1s and Callaways, I don't care if I never come back. . . . Root, root, root for your home pro, if he don't win it's a shame. . . . So it's a hole-in-one, two, three putts you're out at the old golf game."

Now, as Mrs. Dr. Bloor will be happy to tell you, I rather like golf. And I confess that I don't have wise graybeards such as Khalid Al-Bogey whispering in my ear, nor do I have sources in the Arab street fairways of municipal courses keeping me apprised of the rumblings of the high-handicap masses. But this is just silly, and particularly annoying as Friedman makes his points as he always does: set up a straw man and knock him down, and throw in some romanticized, Panglossian bullshit for good measure. In case you hadn't noticed, Tom, football is America's game, has been for some time now. Violent on the field, cutthroat in the front office, requires no sacrifice on the part of fans except a trip to the 'loo every quarter or so. That's who we are these days.


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