Saturday, February 21, 2009

Stanford Financial Follies

No doubt you've been reading Geoff Shackelford, Ryan Ballengee, and Hound Dog on the impact on professional golf of the "massive ongoing fraud" investigation into Stanford Financial Group. I'm a little surprised the golfy media hasn't dug up more LPGA implications on a story that's been front-page material since Tuesday and floating around the business media for longer. Recently, Charles Elmore focused on the Morgan Pressel endorsement angle, while Purva Patel countered some of the overly optimistic spin coming out of the PGA Tour spin department (but didn't really add anything to Dave Seanor's overview from the 17th).

Me, I'm just glad to be teaching Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place in my Black Women Writers course in a couple of weeks. Apparently, nobody in the LPGA office has read Kincaid's 1988 jeremiad against the ways postcolonial Antigua has sold its soul to the highest bidder (among other juicy topics). Then again, I've not only read it several times but taught it before, as well, yet I still never thought to connect a Houston-based company with its founder's activities and standing in Antigua (indeed, I wasn't even aware of them). Dumb, right? I mean, back in July 2000, David Ivanovich of the Houston Chronicle quoted Stanford as saying, without a trace of irony, "I just happen to be a major investor in a small place," which no doubt prompted Ivanovich to lead his story with, "R. Allen Stanford went empire-building in the Caribbean. But the Houston businessman's dream of creating a major offshore banking center on the tiny island of Antigua ran up against the U.S. State Department's crusade against money laundering."

So while I can't exactly fault the LPGA for failure to perform due diligence when they decided to dump ADT for Stanford Financial as the title sponsor of their season-ending, $1M-to-the-winner event--heck, they probably thought Stanford was less wacky and annoying than The Donald, for all I know--I can make the following modest proposal: do a google search before you strike your next deal. Oh yeah, and take heed of Momoko Ueda's recent observation on her blog, "I really do love books. Books give you an opportunity to reexamine who you are, and I feel like through books you can make fresh starts" (sorry, I can't reproduce her expert use of anime-emoticons here, so you're losing the full effect). If I might offer a humble suggestion, there's no better place for the LPGA to start than A Small Place.

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