When is the national media going to realize that sports are different than a reality tv show and that their job isn't to script an event but to report on it?
Whether it was Leonard Shapiro hoping for a Cristie Kerr win or Michael Arkush bemoaning a Paula Creamer moving day implosion, something fishy was in the air this week, and it wasn't just those doing the color commentary who were the source of it. Consider who among the following 3 pairs of golfers captured the imagination and attention of the national media in the Sunday game stories you read today.
- Cristie Kerr and Candie Kung: the last leader in the clubhouse--and her disappointing bogey on the 71st hole of the tournament--were almost completely eclipsed by the focus on Kerr's struggles with her game.
- Brittany Lincicome and In-Kyung Kim: the player who was actually tied for the lead late on the back 9--and who bogeyed the final hole to fall out of a tie with Kung--gets eclipsed by a player who made a charge early on the back but fizzled from 15 on.
- Paula Creamer and Ai Miyazato: both players made late birdies to become the 1st leaders in the clubhouse (at +4) to actually put a little pressure on those in the final pairings, but you'll only find out about 1 of them if you rely on the national media.
Yeah, yeah, beyond the fact that it's always the blonde American LPGAers who get the word count from the U.S. media, I get it that Kerr and Lincicome have each won a major recently and that Creamer may well be the best player on tour without one. Yes, Suzann Pettersen also made a late birdie to join Creamer and Miyazato as co-leaders in the clubhouse until Lincicome, Kim, and Kung surpassed them, so it's not just the Taiwan-born, Korean, or Japanese players who fall outside the media spotlight. And yes, I'll even confess to feeling the same things that lead to these kinds of oversights: I was disappointed 2 Sundays ago when Morgan Pressel's dramatic comeback on Eunjung Yi at the Farr came just short.
But a 1st LPGA win for my #11-ranked Super Soph is less of a story than my #2-ranked Junior Mint coming back from a mini-slump this season to get her 2nd career win and 1st major with a walkoff birdie on women's golf's biggest stage. And the fact that she beat Kung, Kim, Miyazato, and Pettersen is just as significant as the fact that she beat Kerr, Lincicome, and Creamer.
I'm off to take out my frustrations on the course--for the 1st time since last August, so I'm pretty excited. Maybe in the meantime someone in the national media will prove me wrong and find a compelling way to frame what really happened at Saucon Valley rather than focusing only on the news that's "fit to print" in their eyes. And maybe everyone will realize that the LPGA's future doesn't rest on one individual or nationality, that the point of sports is the thrilling competition itself.
Yeah, and maybe I'll break 75 on The Easiest Course in the World today.
[Update 1 (12:09 pm): Well, I couldn't even break 80 today (the rust on my 30-to-90 yard game was something fierce!), but I got to catch up with one of my golfing buddies from years ago and we had a fun 3 and a half hours. Nice to come back to find that Jay Busbee's got my back (and a link to a very good Brian Murphy piece)!]
[Update 2 (12:18 pm): Also a nice overview from Amy Ellis Nutt out of the Newark Star-Ledger. Have I misunderestimated the national media?]
[Update 3 (12:30 pm): But the basic question remains: will the national media be able to get the story right? My benchmark is whether they understand the tournament and final round as well as long-time LPGA bloggers Hound Dog and Bill Jempty.]
[Update 4 (1:15 pm): The smaller-market golf writers are doing a good job. Here's Mark Wogenrich out of PA's Lehigh Valley, Andrew Shay out of Bethlehem, and Gerry Dulac out of Pittsburgh. But Mike Kirn of the Philadelphia Daily News, Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Michael Whitmer of the Boston Globe did just fine. Still, the SI guys only focus on Creamer's and Kerr's collapses--the rest is on who will replace Bivens. (More on that in another post.)]
[Update 5 (7/14/09, 12:30 pm): John Strege gets it right, as usual.]