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National column for delaware paper

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by jtom2141, Apr 22, 2007.

  1. jtom2141

    jtom2141 New Member

    It's long but that's because space is tough to fill for a weekly student paper. Oddly a couple of decent names in sports writing have read this and didn't think it sucked. You might get a laugh or two. Feedback welcome (obviously).

    A tradition unlike any other... and let's keep it that way

    CBS is lucky I like golf so much.

    It is lucky it is one of my favorite sports, it is lucky I am half-decent at it and it is lucky The Masters is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Because for all of the sappy, dramatic dweebery I have to put up with just to watch it, it probably should have lost a viewer by now.

    From the floral names given to each of Augusta National's holes, to the broad, borderline-eerie smile from Jim Nantz in Butler Cabin at the Green Jacket Ceremony every year, The Masters has cemented itself as the most pretentious event in sports. The fact that I have to capitalize "Green," "Jacket," and "Ceremony," should be proof enough of that.

    I understand The Masters is, according to CBS, a "tradition unlike any other," but every tradition is unlike any other, that's what makes it a tradition - it is different from everything else. The Super Bowl is a tradition unlike any other, so is the World Series. Maybe if there were another golf tournament at Augusta National with the best players in the world called "Screw You, This Is The Masters," I could see a reason for CBS pointing it out.

    After more than 70 years of the tournament that America loves so much, it should be time for CBS to stop acting like The Masters is some ballet that viewers are privileged to watch. Sure, no matter how it cover the event, CBS is going to get the same ratings, but for us college students who will be watching this tournament for the next 40 years, it's time to tone it down.

    I recently found an interview of Jim Nantz conducted before last year's Masters. Even off camera he oozes with sappy, dramatic language. During the interview, it quickly becomes evident there is a reason why Robert Frost did not become a golf announcer, and there is a reason Jim Nantz is not a published poet.

    When asked what he first saw at this year's Masters, Nantz's words rivaled Shakespeare's… well, maybe dinner-theater Shakespeare.

    "The first swing I saw was Ernie Els on the tee at the fourth hole. I was on my way to 15 and detoured over to see Ernie launch a two-iron that seemed to hang in the air for about 45 seconds. Draped against the sky, falling just beyond the flagstick. Effortless, like everything else he does."

    This is not British Literature; in the words of Shooter McGavin, "This is golf!" If Nantz came out to a local municipal course in Newark, would he still be talking like this?

    Charles "Chuckwagon" Bratkowksi steps onto the tee. His polyester polka-dot shorts are interacting beautifully with the brownish-yellow tee box. He's wearing his Sunday red shirt … actually I'm hearing from Lanny it's a spaghetti stain, what a fearless competitor. He addresses his glow-in-the-dark ball at the 98-yard par-3 eighth. He hits a high towering shot - like only Chuckwagon can - heading right for the flagstick … of the 13th hole. Effortless, just like everything else he does, including his job as mall security.

    The bottom line is, coverage of The Masters, and golf in general, might be appealing to old farts, but it is alienating the future dads across America.

    When the most popular golfer is a young, charismatic black man who appears in Nike commercials, has his own video game and is married to a supermodel, golf should not be restricted to middle-aged executives.

    The inability to appeal to a younger audience starts with CBS's broadcast team. None of them are within a John Daly drive of 40 years old, and their inane, technical golf chatter is about as confusing as the IBM business consulting commercials aired during most tournaments. I'm not saying golf coverage should be turned into "Happy Gilmore," but dropping the cheesy puns ("Tiger roars again!") and the goofy jacket ceremonies (sorry, Jacket Ceremonies), would help keep the youth of today from changing the channel.

    But possibly the most crucial step - a step that brings up a whole other set of issues in sports - is to add some diversity to golf. A 2003 study by the National Golf Foundation found that 15 percent of white adults were golfers. The NGF also reported that 97 percent of the golf courses that closed last year were public, the only tracks us college kids can afford to play.

    These statistics prove the whole focus of golf is based around old, rich, white men. Augusta National's history of not allowing women or African-Americans into its club screams "old rich white men" like the Republican National Convention. The way CBS covers the Masters and the way the PGA and its players market themselves to big name corporations does nothing to alleviate that bias either.

    Once golf can get past these cultural boundaries, it can begin to expand its audience to a younger base. I'm a rare, 22-year-old golf fan. I estimate Tiger Woods has about 12 years left of competitive golf. The clock is ticking.
  2. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Jtom, thanks for posting. It's not a bad effort. It could definitely use some tightening, and I'm not sure if your overall premise -- golf is pompous and appeals to old people? -- is a particularly strong, or compelling argument, but maybe I can show you how you could tighten it a bit.

  3. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

  4. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I don't want that to come off as too harsh, Jtom, because I think you're on the right track. I wrote a lot of columns like this in college that didn't quite come together. I'm painfully recalling a fake match between David Duval and God (with Jim Nantz and Ken Venturi calling the action) that I once penned. I think this column needs more focus, and needs better evidence to support your premise, but I think it contained some nice writing.

    Along the same subject lines, I'd encourage you to pick up a copy of Rick Reilly's novel "Missing Links" which tackles golf's tug-of-war between the haves and have nots, with Reilly firmly on the side of the have nots. It's a funny ode to those who love the game for the camaraderie more than they do the stuffy business deals negotiated on the 12th tee. It's worth your time.

    Keep writing columns, as well as other kinds of writing. And again, thanks for posting.
  5. jtom2141

    jtom2141 New Member

    Wow. Thanks a lot for the revisions. I agree with almost all of what you wrote and a few of the grammatical errors got picked up by either myself or copy editors (this wasn't the final draft). The only thing I disagreed with was the part where I list the statistics. It was very hard to find relevant info without paying for it and while I agree I should've elaborated more, space did not permit it. I wanted some semblance of data to back up my argument and while it wasn't perfect, I thought it was somewhat telling.

    This was actually the first column I ever wrote. I wrote it for a class a year ago, my teacher liked it so I spruced it up this year and published it (not sure how ethical that is, but I don't think it detracted from the end product).

    Anyway, I appreciate the feedback and I'll be sure to post more in the future, knowing how helpful this forum can be.
  6. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    jtom (and keep in mind this is not just directed at you but also intended for the benefit of our whole workshop),

    Here is one thing that it took me a long time to understand about column writing: Even though it's your opinion, it doesn't mean it doesn't need extensive research and interviews to back up your argument. Now, I know you probably weren't thinking about that when you wrote this for a class, especially since this is your first column ever, but you'll write columns in the future, and the next time you tackle a subject, keep some of this in mind.

    The internet is an incredible research tool. It's also much easier to use than it was even 10 years ago when I was in college. Just now, I googled "golf" and "minorities" and found a bunch of articles with statistics that could have been relavent for your argument.


    Here is another article about the Tiger Woods impact after he won The Masters in 1997. Golf got a big bump in minority and youth participation. Did it miss an opportunity to do more?


    All that was free, and fairly easy to find. I found it in 10 minutes. Also, a foundation like NGF really wants to get its information out there, so there is a good chance they will call you back, even if you only work for a college paper. Now I know you said you didn't have the space, but I think you could pick one of those paragraphs I pulled out, and use it to make your point better. Saying that 15 percent of white people play golf doesn't tell me anything other than 15 percent of white people play golf. I have nothing to compare it to.

    Don't let any of this discourage you, because this is just your first column. And it wasn't bad. Just make certain you don't settle for the first statistic you find.
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