Published: July 31, 2022 at 12:01 am
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You don’t have to be a golf fan to be mesmerized by the daily headlines in the battle between the PGA and the fledgling Saudi-backed LIV golf league. PGA threats read like something out of a mafia movie. Dissident players will not be welcomed back on the PGA Tour. They will be stripped of Ryder Cup invitations and will be persona non grata in the Golf Hall of Fame. All that’s missing is golf’s godfather swearing on the graves of his grandchildren.
Masters Champion and fan favorite Bubba Watson has become the latest superstar to call the PGA hoax. When big money speaks, some of the biggest names in golf will be walking by.
All this blunt talk comes from an organization (that operates as a nonprofit) trying to intimidate those we all thought were independent contractors.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Justice is considering taking antitrust action against the PGA. Players can file a lawsuit. Imagine any company or other organization that hires independent contractors (thereby avoiding tax and legal implications) and then threatens those independent contractors themselves that if they work for any other organization, those contractors will not be allowed to work with them. Even Pete Rozelle and the powerful NFL have been keen to avoid this legal land mine years ago when the fledgling AFL started.
PGA lawyers may honestly believe they can get away with this. Do they think Saudi Arabia’s stock is so low that they are winning a purely public relations battle? PR is helpful, but this promises a major legal battle that will be resolved by facts and the law. Neither of them appears to be on Mr. Monahan’s side. Perhaps he thought he had enough goodwill with the members of Congress that they could be persuaded to step in with some kind of legislative protection for this fief.
Good luck with that.
Mr. Monahan is clearly a deceiver. He and his legal beagle must know that if the payment turns around, he loses in the end. Many gamers have questioned the way the PGA cash pie has been sliced in recent years. And they believe the PGA officials have taken for themselves a larger slice than ever before. What the PGA leadership fears most is transparency. If it ends up as a case in federal court, the plaintiffs will be discovered, and they will demand access to the books and records.
From the start, Jay Monahan believed his best defense was a solid attack. First, threaten and bully the players. Then they mobilized the media, especially the sports media and the Washington Post. The Post because it was their savage reporter who was brutally murdered in the Turkish Embassy.
On a certain level, deception and bullying succeeded. Most sports media have convinced the narrative: PGA is good, LIV is bad Saudi-backed. Almost all stories reflect this story line. To illustrate the angle of good versus evil, LIV holds at least one tournament in a tournament owned by the Trump Organization. Any errant (left) reporter now clearly understands who the good guys are.
To be sure, the human rights violations committed by the House of Saud are real. The crown prince and his Wahhabi supporters are savage representatives. But that hasn’t stopped our Commander-in-Chief from trading in a futile attempt to get more of their oil. It does not prevent dozens of American companies from partnering with the Saudis. Our military-industrial complex sells them billions of dollars worth of equipment every year.
Consider some hypocrisy. According to one report, twenty-three of the major PGA sponsors and tournaments are doing billions of dollars in business with the Saudis. Then there is the golf’s growing relationship with the Chinese Communists. More Clubs and shoes for hobbyists and trekking professionals are made in China. Just try to buy a new driver is not. Anyone who believes that the Chinese leadership is not brutal lives in an asshole’s paradise. The PGA, like the NBA, desperately wants to expand its reach into communist China.
A few years ago, the PGA and the European Tour combined in what now appears to be an attempt to establish a monopoly. This year the Europeans changed their name to the DP World Tour. Dubai Ports means Dubai Port. Dubai may not be as hard-line as Saudi Arabia, but it is an Islamic emirate. Human rights are determined by the emir and Islamic law.
Jay, you are making this very personal. It is likely that more big players will call the deception and the disadvantage. It’s not personal, it’s business. It’s time to sit back and make peace.
Jill Gutknecht is a former congressman from Minnesota who is disabled 15.