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Tiger and Masters Media Bias

by John on 04/13/2013


This Masters is so rich with story lines that reflect society and the economy.

  1. Fred Couples is in his 50s at the top of the leaderboard: a testament to the somewhat fountain of youth of modern medical technology.
  2. Guan Tianlang, a 14 year old phenom from China, is the youngest golfer ever at The Masters: a testament to the power of the Asian Tiger.
  3. And then there’s the other Tiger who gets a 2-stroke penalty and no disqualification amid roars of elitist bias.

On a first look, you perceive the Tiger incident this way:

Tiger appears to have gotten the Wall Street treatment.  He breaks a rule but because The Masters needs him – like the economy couldn’t afford Wall Street to collapse — he’s given a slap on the wrist and a chance to compete further – like Wall Street is allowed to get bailouts and then reap huge profits again while Main Street suffers.

After all, Augusta National and CBS would see a massive drop in revenues if Tiger is not on TV playing Amen Corner on Sunday.  So, there was no way Tiger was going to be DQ’d.  I mean if he made a clerical error on his scorecard, like Roberto De Vincenzo did in 1968, then that’s fine since the TV, sponsorship, and gate revenues would have already come in.

However, technically, this perception is wrong.

A new rule by the PGA Tour, written in 2011, makes it OK to keep Tiger in the field:

However, if the Committee is satisfied that the competitor could not reasonably have known or discovered the facts resulting in his breach of the Rules, it would be justified under Rule 33-7 in waiving the disqualification penalty prescribed by Rule 6-6d.  The penalty stroke(s) associated with the breach would, however, be applied to the hole where the breach occurred.

But the initial perception is also partially right.  The Tiger incident is really a case of media bias.  More specifically, it’s the old media trying to stop the disruption of the new media.  Ironically, a good piece found on CBS Sports explains it best:

The entire purpose of the rule amendment was to keep the new-age technology that can quickly allow folks at the course or folks watching not to flip the script by calling in to the PGA and busting players for something they unwillingly did.

So, it’s the Golden Rule of TV.  The TV networks have the golf and they make the rules. The rules are simple: they want control of their content. They don’t want the audience to upset the production or the storyline that will bring in the most money.

  • The real problem is the rules of golf are so intricate that not all the golfers know the rules.
  • There are fans out there who know the rules better.  With social media, these smarty-pants viewers can show-up the players and the PGA as ignorant or hypocrites.
  • What we don’t know is this: would a no-name golfer get the same penalty as Tiger?

Your thoughts.

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