August 13th, 2009
06:46 PM ET

Money Money Money should be new Olympic motto

So now we have it, the final confirmation that the Olympic motto of "citius, altius, fortius" - or faster, higher, stronger - counts for absolutely nothing when it comes to the selection of sports for inclusion in the 2016 program and beyond.

Golfer John Daly, infamous for his off-course excesses, is regularly seen smoking while playing.
Golfer John Daly, infamous for his off-course excesses, is regularly seen smoking while playing.

With the greatest of respect to golf, and I happen to believe that Tiger Woods lays claim to being the greatest sportsman of all time, it no more fits that Olympic ideal than an energetic game of tiddlywinks.

I have this vision of a by-then 50-year-old John Daly chain-smoking his way to gold at the 2016 Games, his not inconsiderable belly peaking over a set of garish trousers in the colors of the United States of America, with the silver going to Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, giant cigar in one hand, and bronze to 66-year-old Tom Watson, revived after his second artificial hip operation.

More than likely, the gold will be won by Tiger, but in his heart of hearts how will it rate against breaking Jack Nicklaus' record for 18 major titles, as he surely will, sinking the winning putt at the Augusta Masters, claiming the British Open at St Andrew's or the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach ?

Which brings me to my second argument, and leave aside questions of athletic ability, the strongest argument for Olympic inclusion should be that winning a gold medal must be the very pinnacle in their respective sport.

Think of the runner Paula Radcliffe's abject misery after failing to win the women's marathon at the Athens Olympics. She would willingly, I am sure, swap all her world records just to get her hands on gold, just once.

And however much professional tennis players and now golfers enjoy playing for the countries at the Olympics, it remains a secondary ambition - whatever Colin Montgomerie might have told the IOC in golf's apparently impressive presentation to the executive board. So what's it to be Monty, an Olympic gold in golf or winning the major that has always eluded you ? I think I know the answer.

Which is why I cannot find a vestige of enthusiasm for the inclusion of rugby sevens, a game requiring considerable physical ability, but just a watered-down version of the proper 15-a-side game, which has its own World Cup and Tri-Nations and Six Nations titles as the highest honors in its sport.

In fairness to the IOC executive board, the opposition to golf and rugby sevens was not terribly strong, with baseball and softball, whatever their advocates might say, played in too few countries and having been hardly a roaring success with their inclusion in previous Olympics to satisfy the American television audience which pays the IOC a hefty sum for the rights.

Karate undoubtedly had a case. However, it's a sport which might look good in Bruce Lee films, but like Taekwondo is rather disappointing visually and full of obscure rules which make it difficult to understand, which brings me to squash and roller sports.

Most people believe that squash is already in the Olympics because it's the sort of sport that should be, requiring immense skill, stamina and courage, played by some of the fittest sportsman in the world and in most countries in the world.

While roller sports - and I used to be very sniffy about the Extreme Games and the like - captures the imagination of youngsters all over the world in a way that, quite frankly, golf and rugby sevens will never do.

But of course they never had a chance against the cash-rich federations representing golf and rugby and the vested commercial interests which are threatening to undermine the Olympic ethos. They should have a new motto: Money Money Money.

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Filed under:  Golf • Olympics • Rugby
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Evan

    The spirit of the Olympics is one of inclusion, fair competition, and idea that anyone can compete, no matter how rich or poor they are. With courses that require a huge amount of resources to maintain, clubs that charge exorbitant fees for the right to play, and its history of exclusion of women and non-whites, golf has always been a rich man's sport. It does not conform to the spirit of the olympics at all.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  2. gus

    Golf is not a sport but a game.You cannot name something sport if you are doing it with an umbrella.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  3. Beatrice Singleton

    Top golfers of today are elite athletes with thousands of hours of training behind every tournament – both physically and mentally. How many athletes today can optimise their concentration and skills at least 5 hrs straight, 4 days in a row, as golfers on the PGA/LPGA must do for each tournament? (And they play a lot of tournaments...) "Gus" writes that golf is not a sport, it's a game... Well, whatever you call it, golf should be a part of the Olympic GAMES ( note: it's not called sports)...

    August 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  4. Mike

    Bottom line- it's a money maker, it'll bring in the crowds, and they want Tiger there to get Gold- it's not a game, it's business.

    August 15, 2009 at 6:16 am | Reply
  5. Ravi

    Beatrice – you rightly pointed out that top golfers are elite athletes. However, this is one GAME (as with motorsport racing) that allows only the elitists to get to the professional pinnacle of the sport.

    The origins of Olympics was to allow amateurs of sports to compete in a common platform. Today, the game has allowed those making millions in endorsements and sponsorships to muscle their way in.

    Yes, this is what every public event is progressing to...and it's all to do with endorsements and sponsorships that is driving to such a change.

    But what about principles..will you sacrifice principles for sake of money?

    If you tell me that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will not only not accept a single dollar, but ensure that their participation will promote sponsors to field amateurs trying to excel to pit their wits against these greats...I would say...WHY NOT..

    But if the intent is to introduce Golf as a money spinner for Olympics...I will say NOT!!!


    August 15, 2009 at 6:28 am | Reply
  6. yapyw

    When I think about golf, I visualize the PGA, the Tours et al. When I think about tennis, I visualize the French Open, the Wimbledon et al. But when I think about the Olympics, I visualize the athletics events, the swimming, the gymnastics but serious not golf, tennis and any other games or sports which are being run on a big organized way. And they -sports like golf and tennis- don't really need the Olympics.

    We remember Tiger Woods for the majors that he won. We remember Federer or Nadal for their clashes in the US Open, Australian Open and other major tourneys. I really don't know who have won the tennis gold -be it singles, doubles, men or women- in the last Olympics.

    But Michael Phelps won multiple golds in swimming at the last Olympics and that made headlines. Or Bolt was the fastest man in the 100m athletics event that got people sat up to take notice.

    Seriously, tennis and golf pros don't need and -if we really care to listen- don't want to go to the Olympics. They have enough to chew on.

    So please leave the Olympics to focus on its core sports. And even if they show Olympics golf and tennis on TV, I would still be tuning in to the swimming, athletics, gymnastics events. I will follow Tiger Woods' lead in this weekend tourney but certainly not likely to watch golf in the Olympics.

    August 15, 2009 at 7:43 am | Reply
  7. o2miller

    I live in Brazil, and although many people I know have heard of golf, they've got no idea that it involves 18 holes, takes so long to play, nor what par is or that different clubs are used. And just Northwest of here, a dictator has just declared the game elitist and closed down a few of the golf courses. You never hear about golf on the TV news or read a thing in the sports pages. Although I agree it is one of the most difficult tasks in the world, hitting the ball with the exact force and direction you intend (I rarely break 90 when I play), I am not sure it belongs in the Olympics. Athletic ability, sure. Spectator sport, only in about 3 countries.

    August 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  8. BJB

    The IOC got golf right, however I believe that roller sports would have been a better choice than rugby. I can imagine young people most anywhere donning skates or picking up a club to learn a new sport. In contrast, Rugby is a rough sport played by alpha men and hardly ever thought of in many countries.

    August 16, 2009 at 9:17 am | Reply
  9. marcelo

    your comments show no knowledge of golf ,its physical requirements and challenges, and portraying some players personal shortcomings or age as a factor of eligibility only adds to your lack of perspective .
    To put it bluntly your commentes show plain ignorance or the discipline involved in the practice of the sport and difficulties that golfers face battling all the elements during the 4 days of any competition.
    Golf is a test of strategy , conduct against adversity , and patience till the very last minute, not to say it is the only sport that encourages the player to call upon himself any penalty he commits during the game, This brings some words into play , integrity and honesty, and that is why hundreds of parents are seeing the benefit of teaching their children to play gofl early in their youths,
    Enough to make it an olimpic choice ??? surely .

    August 16, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  10. Holly Burton

    Marcelo writes: "This brings some words into play , integrity and honesty, and that is why hundreds of parents are seeing the benefit of teaching their children to play gofl [sic] early in their youths"

    If golf teaches such virtues as integrity and honesty then these lessons must soon vanish because I am pretty sure people like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton play golf!

    August 27, 2009 at 1:59 am | Reply
  11. steve kendrick

    Golf is a series athletes in there own game . it has twists and turns . even the best players can lose all chance of winnig . a 50 + yr old can beat a 20 yr old ( name me another sport that can do that ) and above all it has a fantastic followiing all over the world

    August 27, 2009 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  12. Allan Gordon

    Golf, an Olympic sport? What's next? Olympic bowling?! Come on. Even though I don't play golf, I respect the game. There is no debating that it's challening, and requires hours of practice and training. But it's not Olympic material.
    Guaranteed, Olympic golf will be one of the Olympic events with few spectators and TV viewership.

    August 29, 2009 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  13. Bill Bartmann

    Cool site, love the info.

    September 1, 2009 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  14. Gronagor

    Interesting comment, BJB. The petition to include rugby was signed by people from more than 120 countries. Most of which was from the USA.

    Perhaps you have to open your eyes to the world. 'Extreme Sports' have lost its charm, and no more than a few teens ever bother being involved.

    September 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  15. lex

    Baseball and softball should've been included instead of these 2 sports. I find golf as an elitist sport.

    October 9, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  16. JAQ

    I've been playing golf since I was 5 years old (now 30) represented my country in many tournaments all over the world. It's true what this article says, winning a gold at the Olympics should be the pinnacle of the sports career. If Tiger Woods looses to a smoking John Daly, do you think Tiger will be very very dissapointed as to Cry for all of the effort he made to win a gold medal at the Olympics? Of course not, he will go the very next week and win another tournaments to only win a couple of more Millions. Yes for Golf you need to have different type of habilities than other sports, but I personally don't think it's Olympics material. How you compare a guy running a 10K marathon with only one opportunity to win gold, to a guy that if he looses one hole, he can still be better on the next and win a gold.

    Golf is a Great Great game, but it's not the pinnacle of any golf player career, so it should not be on the Olympics.

    October 9, 2009 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  17. Dallas Reid

    Basically the article says it all. If the IOC had admitted squash it woudl have transformed the game globally allowing those incredibly talented athletes and their successors access to proper training facilities and reasonable income for thier efforts.

    This will do nothing whatsoever for golf.

    Like most of the Olympics politics this is a shame and a disgrace.

    October 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  18. Steve Hufford

    Why would anyone even bother to watch the Olympics anymore since all they are about is getting money from sponsors?

    Squash has twice been denied entrance into the Olympics although it is a worldwide sport, played on all continents, in need of a worldwide championship, and suitable for enjoyment by players of all ages and standards.

    It is time for squash players and others who believe in the stated ideals of the Olympics to go on the offensive and organize a boycott by not viewing or supporting any financial aspect of the Olympics.

    The IOC needs to be hit where it hurts – in their wallets.

    October 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  19. Nascimento

    I live in Rio that will host 2016 Olympics Games. Golf and Rugby are not common here, and most of people don`t have enought money to pay expensive clubs to play this games or even know the rules of them. I think the choice of this games as Olimpics is only politics due to the power of this federations. Sports such as futsal should be included in Olimpics Games rather than that ones because futsal is more popular around the world.

    October 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Reply
  20. Ethan Superbowl Ticket

    Why would anyone even bother to watch the Olympics anymore since all they are about is getting more money from sponsors. Also its hard to watch because of all the so called dream teams. Before athlete's made a name for themselves at the games. Now a days they are already well now. It take the fun out of it for me at least. It never gives anyone a chance to become a rising star. It should be for no pros's only.

    November 5, 2009 at 4:32 am | Reply
  21. wsh

    Has anyone given a thought to the price paid by the people / residents of the host country for the games to be held ? Take the coming Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, PRC as an example. More than 10 Million people suffered for the past 2-3 years in preparation for the games, with some loosing their lives while others lost their homes, properties etc. This is not to mention the inconveniences brought about by all the renovations and improvement projects going on in the past 2-3 years !

    Is the price paid by these 10 + million of people worth the short 10-20 days of games spirit ? Will the 10 + million people enjoy the improvements brought about by the games and for how long ?

    Personally, I think the price is too big paid by the 10 + millions of people of Guangzhou !

    Didn't the selcetion committee cosider such issues in their selection or they just listen to the over zealous oficials too keen to put up a show for political reason(s) ?

    July 3, 2010 at 3:24 am | Reply
  22. olympic games schedule

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