Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Golf is a Bourgeoise Sport

Caesar Chavez of Venezuela has railed against golf as a capitalist and elitist sport, also calling it bourgeoise. I have to agree with Chavez that golf is bourgeoise. I will even add that golf is the quintessential capitalist sport. To me, these are good things though.

Golf is an individualist game. There is no team. There is no one to blame except oneself if one doesn't do well. It is the golfer and the course. True, golfers also compete against other golfers just as businesses compete with one another. The winner in the competition, be it golf or business, is the one who is better than the other.

A former colleague of mine when I was at LSU raised an interesting question about team sports. The comment is often made that sports builds character. He wondered whether that was true. In football, for example, coaches teach how to hold without being seen by the refs. Basketball players work on subtle ways to push off without being seen. Pitchers in baseball look for advantages such as vaseline on the ball. Former Cincinnat Reds manager said once that he collected baseballs discarded by the umps during games when Dodgers pitcher Don Sutton pitched to show the similarity in cuts on the balls. Anderson accused Sutton of using a belt buckle to cut the ball to increase the movement of the ball.

In golf, players penalize themselves when they break a rule, even when inadvertently they break a rule. Refs are not part of the game. Officials at tournaments are there to help clarify rules but not to catch cheating. When was the last time a baseball player told an umpire that he had missed the tag?

Deirdre McCloskey wrote an excellent book, The Bourgeoise Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. A commercial society may not produce works like The Iliad, but life for the majority of people is significantly better in a commercial society than in a warrior society.

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