Let’s come right out with it—the move to give Steph Curry a spot in the Ellie Mae Classic, last weekend’s Web.Com event, was one of the coolest ideas in recent sports history. Not just golf history—sports history. Even before he took the course, it was a phenomenal concept, and exactly the kind of stunt that’s intriguing and exciting without being too gimmicky. Curry is already basically a pro golfer in a basketball player’s body—he’s the best in the world at repeating a specific motion over and over under extreme pressure—and we knew anecdotally that he could play. So why not put him out there with the big boys? It was pure genius.
And for the most part, the result was stellar. You had pundits and other pros smack-talking Curry in the lead-up, claiming he wouldn’t break 80, or 78, or 76 (pick a number). You had mini controversies generated by the stick-up-the-bum brigade, who argued that Curry was stealing a spot from an actual golfer (too bad). You had media descending on TPC Stonebrae, adding energy to the spectacle. The hype was STRONG.
And then Curry actually delivered! The dude shot 74-74, which was better than almost anyone expected, and although he didn’t make the cut, he acquitted himself incredibly well and earned props from a slew of PGA Tour pros. The experiment was a total success, and a boon for the Web.Com Tour.
And I have nothing to complain about, because I enjoyed watching every minute of it.
Worst Sports Decision of the Week: Web.com Tour
My GOD, how do you not televise Steph Curry playing golf? How do you not have a damn livestream, at least? How is it possible that one of the biggest athletic icons in America is playing in a professional golf tournament, and it’s not on TV…or at least online?
Sure, there are excuses—for one thing, there were two PGA Tour events that weekend that gobbled up the TV space. My sophisticated counter-argument is this: I don’t care. I don’t care about this or any other rationalization. I mean, one of those events was the Barracuda Classic, featuring exactly zero marquee professionals and a totally unintelligible scoring system designed by Bryson DeChambeau on an acid trip. How on earth does that take precedence over Steph friggin’ Curry playing pro golf?
You can’t talk me out of my outrage. This is a “just get it done” situation. JUST. GET. IT. DONE. Steph Curry is playing professional golf. Everyone wants to see that. It was by far the biggest story of the weekend, and it was a marketing coup. How do you fail that critical last step? Honestly, how?
I mean, there wasn’t even a compilation of all 74 shots that we could watch after the fact, which would have been pretty cool on its own, and would have required the manpower of exactly one human with an iPhone.
I know I’m rambling, but I can’t get over it. This is like if Evel Knievel were jumping the grand canyon on a motorcycle, ABC bought the rights, and then decided to do a radio broadcast that night because Diane Sawyer was interviewing the Prime Minister of Latvia about the price of sheep’s wool.
“Folks, Knievel is now revving up his engine…he’s driving…he’s up the ramp, and in the air, and…wow…oh my! Wow! This is really something to see! My goodness! Incredible! (five minutes pass) You really had to be there, folks! I can’t possibly describe what I just witnessed! (five more minutes pass) By the way, Knievel totally failed. He’s probably dead. I can’t see into the canyon, but, uh…he’s probably dead.”
I really don’t think I’ll ever get over this. I’ll die angry that I couldn’t watch it live. Short videos of Curry making a birdie putt are not good enough! Next time, I want Feherty with him every step of the way. I want Feherty with him before and after the rounds. I want Feherty sleeping in the same room as him, letting me know when he hits his REM cycles. I don’t want Feherty in the shower with him, but that’s honestly the only place that Curry should have privacy on a weekend like this. And even there, I think there’s room for debate. (Thinks about it.) Yes, I want Feherty in the shower with Curry. But it has to be tasteful.
The point is, we live in a TV-saturated society, and most of what exists on the airwaves is godawful. A stunt like this, otherwise so perfectly conceived and executed, cannot be left to the imagination. It’s totally unconscionable. Let’s do it again next year, and this time, let’s do it right.
Spoiler of the Week: Justin Gatlin, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
I am an Olympics nuts—my obsession is very, very deep—and it’s probably the only time I’m overtly patriotic. I’ll root for any American, in any sport, and demonize the opposition without remorse. That said, there’s one athlete I’ve pulled for over his American rivals for the last three Olympics, and that athlete is Usain Bolt. I know I’m not alone—the dude is pure lightning in human form, and it’s impossible not to love him.
Since emerging as the world’s fastest man at the 2008 Olympics, Bolt has won three gold medals and three world championships, and in almost every big race, he’s bested his rival Justin Gatlin. Everyone expected more of the same in Bolt’s farewell race, but Gatlin flipped the script:
Despite the fact that this was a sprint, it was also an incredible feat of endurance for Gatlin, who is no spring chicken himself—he actually won the 2004 gold medal in the 100m before Bolt made the scene, and he stuck around long enough to bookend the Brazilian’s career with a wild upset. Bolt is still the king, but Gatlin just unleashed one of the all-time great spoilers.
The GUTLESS MOVE of the Week: Ryan Moseley
Background: Jose Siri plays for the Dayton Dragons, the single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. He broke a Midwest League record with a 39-game hit streak, and came up to bat in the eighth inning on Friday with a chance to make it 40. He was 0-3 to that point, his team was trailing 4-1, there was nobody on base, and then this happened:
I’m borrowing the announcer’s language when I agree that this was a totally gutless move. I hope it was Moseley’s doing, and not an order from on high, because in that case there’s just one jerk in this situation. If the manager ordered it? The whole team should be demoted to tee ball.
In any case, I am glad I got to see a bench-clearing walk at least once in my life.
Stupid Over-Policing Bureaucratic Moment of the Week: Junior League Softball Officials
I’ll keep this very short: A team of 12-14-year-old girls made the junior league softball national championship game, and then six of them took a photo in which they flipped the bird to the camera in a message intended for their semifinal opponents. The result? The whole team was DQ’ed by Little League officials.
Here’s the proper reaction to the photo: Who cares? That’s my take on this, and I think the only reasonable one. Kids are dumb. Should their parents and coaches have shamed them privately? Sure. Was it egregious enough to kick the entire team out of the tournament? Nope. That’s nanny-state nonsense, and a gigantic overreaction. Even more annoying is the moral grandstanders of the Internet defending the decision. There’s something truly sick about harming an entire generation of kids by giving them smartphones in the first place, and then punishing them a second time when they give in to the impulses these things enable.
I don’t care what rules the team violated—there’s a rule for everything. The fact is, these were just kids who made a rash decision, and it could have been a teachable moment without going full draconian on them. Instead, a group of so-called adults with a punishment fetish couldn’t stop themselves from playing moral authority and ruining their dreams over nothing.
In the end, though, I blame the angst and anger of these young girls on the fact that Steph Curry was playing professional golf, and they couldn’t watch it on TV. That’s a tragedy that affects us all.