USA Today: Golf Is Sexist, Tiger Robbed Women of Spotlight

June 9th, 2016 10:30 PM

If you thought Tiger Woods was done objectifying and causing distress to women, well, according to USA Today’s Christine Brennan, you couldn’t be more mistaken.

Writing on the current state of women’s Golf, and the lack of notoriety for its most famous player, Brennan levels an absolutely insane charge at Tiger Woods:

“Tell me, sports fans, do you know the name Lydia Ko? She has been the No. 1-ranked player in the world in women’s golf for 33 consecutive weeks. Golf fans must know her. But the casual sports fan?

How about Lexi Thompson? She could win the Olympic gold medal for the United States in women’s golf in Rio in two months. Please tell me you’ve heard of her.

Ariya Jutanugarn? Stacy Lewis? Inbee Park?

How about Nancy Lopez?

That was a trick question. Of course you’ve heard of Nancy Lopez. But if she’s the female golfer you know best, we’ve got some serious problems here. Lopez, 59, retired from regular tournament play in 2002, when Ko was 5.

A massive disconnect exists between what we should know about the LPGA Tour and what most of us do know. Today is the greatest day in the history of the LPGA Tour -- until tomorrow. The prize money has never been higher, $63.1 million, up from $40.5 million five years ago, and almost nothing 30 years ago. There are more tournaments (33) than there have been in eight years. The tour has more of a presence on network TV (seven events) than it has since the ‘90s.

Yet almost no one knows this. Why? I’ll give you one idea: Tiger Woods, that’s why.

For 20 years now, Tiger has blocked out the sun on the LPGA Tour. He has been a riveting draw for the PGA Tour, and men’s golf overall, but not the women’s game. As the mainstream sports media flocked to him, it virtually ignored the LPGA.”

What an interesting charge to make, especially after Brennan gets done regaling us with how the LPGA has grown exponentially in terms of wealth, number of tournaments, and television coverage. Did Tiger simultaneously destroy women’s golf and cause it to explode in wealth and exposure?

Yes, Tiger did dominate golf, and maybe he did take some light away from women’s golfers. However, he also took the light away from male golfers. The average American fan, if asked to identify 5 male golfers, will probably name Tiger, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and maybe Rory McIlroy before throwing his hands in the air. Maybe not even that many.

Conversely, Brennan’s point about male stars stealing the limelight from female stars is nullified if you flip the script and take a look at tennis. Serena and Venus Williams are household names in this country. Both are female, and get far more media attention and money than any other American male tennis player.

Go ahead and ask the average American sports fan if he’s heard of John Isner? He’s the top American male tennis player, according to ESPN. Unless you’re an avid fan, the answer is most assuredly no. Ask that same fan if he’s heard of Serena Williams? You’re going to get an answer in the affirmative. Ask that fan whether he’s heard more about Serena, or Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, and the results will largely the same. 

Is this sexist? By Brennan’s reasoning it would be. So I look forward to Christie Brennan’s article about how John Isner is blotted out by Serena Williams. While she’s at it, she could also do a killer article about how Ronda Rousey stole all of Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones’ sunlight.

Brennan goes on:

“Interestingly, a vast untapped market of prospective golfers does exist. It’s not white men. Golf surely has maxed out on them. It’s women, millions of women who have grown up in sports due to Title IX and are now looking for new challenges in their 20s and 30s. Has golf put out the welcome mat for these women?

Grudgingly and slowly. This is a sport in which a sizable portion of older men still don’t want women around them when they play the game. (Muirfield, that’s you.) Golf isn’t the only place where sexism has trumped capitalism for decades, but it is rather amazing that this has occurred with the greatest capitalists among us.

But a new day just might be dawning. This is the second year that the major formerly known as the LPGA Championship has been spiffed up and put on as a partnership of the PGA of America and the LPGA, with KPMG footing the bill.

It makes you believe that almost anything is possible, maybe even a woman running for president from a major U.S. political party someday?”

Sexism has apparently trumped capitalism in the LPGA. A sport that by Brennan’s own admission has nearly tripled its worth from 30 years ago. But yes, times have changed for women. After all, not only do we have a female presidential nominee, we’ve also had a woman who said rape victims have a right to be believed. While simultaneously trying to silence her husband’s rape accusers.

And they’re all the same woman! Such progress.