A place for me to talk about San Francisco Bay Area sports.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Male Chauvinists Rear Their Ugly Masculine Heads With Wie

(NOTE: I wrote this 5 years ago, to this day. It has been sitting in my draft since, just found it again recently. I decided to post it anyway, it may be old, and Wie may not have done much since, but I still think this bias would still be there if any other young woman decided to do this today and my points are still valid.)

Why all the controversy over Michelle Wie? Why not let the young, soon to be Stanford scholar, lady play? Are big boys' big egos getting bent out of shape? I think so, and its not just the golfers, but the writers too, who I find they like to slant their article against her.

Similar to Tiger

Tiger Woods had a similar problem starting out despite doing things during his teens that no one else had done before. The pros were openly dismissive of him and his skills but when he had done something no golfer in the long history of the U.S. Amateurs other than Jack Nicklaus, that should have told them that Tiger was special, so stand back and let him prove it. Or not, as the case may be.

Of course, Michelle Wie hasn't quite racked up the hardware that Tiger did when he won all those amateurs. And that's always mentioned when dismissing her attempts to make the cut in a PGA event. But lets examine her feats from a different perspective than the common sportswriter.

At age 14, she nearly made the cut at the Sony Open. At 14! First, forget that she is female, but how many boys that age can play well enough to make the cut? Ironically, Todd Fujikawa, a 16 year old also from Hawaii just made the cut where Michelle didn't, so the press has to denigrate Wie, but he's the youngest player in 50 years to make a cut on the PGA Tour. And Wie nearly did that when she was 14 years old. That tells me how special and unique her performances was previously.

Not that I knew this fact before, but I've followed golf since the Golden Bear, Tom Weiskoft, and Lee Trevino era, and I know that its a pretty rare event for anybody, male or female. So why not celebrate that feat and marvel at the fact that a 14 year old nearly made the cut?

Culture of Sports

I suppose part of it is the culture of sports: people who don't cut it, who don't "win" in some way, is not worthy of mention or praise. Thus the Buffalo Bills don't get credit for making the Super Bowl for four straight seasons, which no team had ever done, for example, or Greg Norman or Colin Montgomerie in golf, or even Phil Mickelson before he started winning Grand Slam events.

But golf is all about losing, except when there is a Tiger or Nicholas or Palmer or Byron Nelson or Sam Sneed or Ben Hogan. There's only one winner in each event and a whole bunch of losers and yet they can recognize that there is still some very good or even great players who just don't win but play well overall. And good players can make a lot of money even though they don't win any events.

Here's how I see it. Golf is a very hard sport to play. For me, I could play the short game (pee wee golf helped me :^) well enough but I just couldn't tee off if my life depended on it. So I admire those who can launch them like Tiger and Wie.

The sport is mainly dominated by mid-20's to mid-30's players, with the very best playing into their 40's. Very few (probably handful) teens can get on the field and be competitive enough to make the cut, thus far. Heck, even guys just out of college have a tough time of it and up to their 30's. So teens who are that good are few and far in-between, and thus it makes news when they do well and headlines should they ever win. But making the cut, while an accomplishment, does not seem to rate much more than a mention buried in the lead story, like Fujikawa.

But think about what you were doing when you were 14. Could you have come close to making the cut at a PGA event? Isn't it a huge accomplishment to do that when you are so young? And she was just a few strokes off from making it. I'm not even a few strokes away from breaking 3 digits, let alone making the cut at a PGA event.

Add in that she's female and that's an additional factor of difficulty. Historically, females don't have the strength to drive the ball as far as men - hence why there are the ladies' tee which is closer to the pin than the men's tee. And that makes her near making the cut such an accomplishment to me.

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