I can’t believe it, another article has been posted about declining participants in golf. Ironically, if yet unsurprisingly, this one was posted on the BBC Sport website. I enjoyed reading the comments from the public below the article, because they revealed the vastly differing opinions we all have. Some claim its to do with time and money. Some claim its because the coverage is interminable. Some even say golf isn’t a sport. And some comments are removed. (I dread to think how worn that persons keyboard must be)
There’s no question that a mixture of these reasons, and more, are culpable for the declining figures. But I think it’s important not to take too much notice of what people say. The reason I say this is because of the word people, meaning; human beings.
I don’t think it’s even worth venturing into the abyss that is the human mind, not that I know a great deal about it. Rather, I would put it like this; What do Football, Tennis, Cricket, Formula One, Boxing and Golf all have in common? A declining interest. Whether it be because of the money footballers earn, the elitism still referred to in tennis and golf. The tedious nature of cricket. The monotony of formula one, whether it be the predictability of the winner(s) or the cost to be involved. The actions of Floyd Mayweather. These are all reasons, again, among many more, that are turning people off these respected sports.
I’m not going to argue this as fact, but in my opinion, it’s as realistic to argue this as it is to argue time, cost, elitism etc as reasons. People get bored and look for new things. People get put off by overpaid, immoral sportsman. Even though there are far fewer than in other walks of life. As Russell Brand would argue, that’s probably why very few care for politics when it’s brimming with corruption and deceit.
The people in charge of golf at the highest levels have decisions to make going forward like every other industry, corporation and alike. How do you move the game forward financially (because that’s what everything is about) without affecting participance?
I’m not convinced it’s possible. I wasn’t a huge boxing fan a week ago, everywhere kept saying Mayweather vs Pacquiao could change boxing. After listening to Mayweather and reading more about his past, he deserves nothing of what he’ll get. I won’t even use me as an example for football. I’ll use my dad. He used to adore football, and although he still loves the game, he admits his love has dwindled. Why? Because of the way some footballers behave and the astronomical figures they earn.
I don’t think golf has reached this point yet. Both in terms of money or the way professional golfers behave. To me, golf as a sport still has a lot going for it. And yes, whilst it’s worrying to see participance in the sport declining, it would be more worrying to see players being booed when they walked onto a tee. More worrying to see the best golfer flaunt his money and taunt the second best for having less.
Golf will be a sport forever. As will football and the rest. New ones will come along, like cycling, and ‘steal’ other sports fans. But as long as the population continues to deepen, capitalism keeps ruling and inequality keeps growing, I’m not sure there’s a lot we can do.
From a European Tour perspective, the best thing they have done for their immediate future is move East. Despite it being uncomfortable for a lot of people, financially it’s made sense. And in the grander scheme of things, participation across the world will probably increase over time. But like other issues, moving east for financial reasons may seem a good idea initially, but eventually it will create friction.
So maybe the best thing the European Tour can do is join up with Asia. But then watch the British public bash more keyboards and play less golf. Come back West and the game will inevitably grow more at home, where it began. But money will be severely affected at the highest level.
If it’s about money, I know where I’d put mine. But the world is destroying itself because of money, so maybe it’s best to think twice.
Answering the question above; Probably not. Not even Donald Trump.