Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Here we go. This is one I know I probably shouldn't write, but I'm at the stage of my career, where if I say, "No comment," people ask me, "What do you mean by that?" Then I usually say, "I don't know."

And in this case I really, really don't. My head says one thing, and my heart thinks my head is my derriere. My liver is huge, by the way.

I think that the Supreme Court made a lousy decision when they ruled in favor of Casey Martin. Anyone who understands the business of professional golf will know that walking is an integral part of the game and there are many situations in which riding in a cart can make competing easier.

Try tramping around the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in a 30 mph easterly, or trudging through a 36-hole Sunday swamp experience like last weekend at the Kemper Open. Or better still, Memphis in June, when the insides of your thighs turn into two ghastly pieces of wet beef jerky.

No one, but no one wants to see Casey Martin robbed of his chance to fulfill his dream of playing golf for a living. That goes without saying, but this case was never about Casey Martin. It was about a cart and a professional sport. I think. The question was: (I thought) "Is it, or is it not, under any circumstances, easier to play the game of golf if the player is transported from the place where he played his last stroke, to the place where his ball lies?"

The people who run this professional sport, not surprisingly, understand the physical requirements that are prerequisite to competing in a professional golf event, and already have a rule which allows for this only when it is necessary to speed up play.

I think we might have a guy in a cart on tour. I'm just hoping the PGA Tour doesn't have to build an HOV lane beside the cart paths because of a flood of applications from people who also want the first three bays on the driving range. If two of them were drawn together, they might carpool.

Not all of them will be worthy applicants like Casey. It could turn into the Boston marathon, where the guys with the wheels finish an hour in front of the foot soldiers. There are other sports I think I worry about, too. I can't swim worth a lick, but if someone had allowed me to wear flippers or tie a propeller to my ass, I think I could have left Mark Spitz in my wake. I know, I know, a cart couldn't make that kind of difference, but it could make a small one, and in this game, a fraction of a shot here and there can mean a lot at the end of the day. In other sports, where do you draw the line? Don't answer that, it could take years in court.

I'm already bracing myself for the hate mail, but before you head for the old laptop, take a moment to consider this. I think that physically challenged, disabled, or handicapped people -- or however we're meant to refer to them these days -- deserve to have fun poked at them, too, just like us folks that are blessed enough to have a full range of motion.

I have a nine-year-old son who has just been diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, and I kiss away his tears and hide my own when I help warm up and loosen his knee, to help him out of bed in the mornings.

There is nothing funny about seeing your child in pain, but he gives me great comfort and strength when I hear him laugh about his chances in an ass-kicking contest. I am so proud of him. Rory is my hero, and I know he will be brilliant at whatever he chooses to do. I hope he doesn't want to be a sprinter.

George Carlin (who should be in charge of this country) once said that no word is offensive, unless there is an intent to be offensive behind it. I believe allowing disabled people the opportunity to react with courage and humor to the situation in which they find themselves is to offer them dignity and respect.

Casey Martin deserves huge quantities of both. I, for one, would have him carried around by four caddies in one of those chairs in which you occasionally see the Pope greeting the masses, if it were not for the effect it may have on our sport.

I'm glad he will have the opportunity to play the tour, but I'm saddened that the Federal Government was involved in giving it to him. I feel sorry for Tim Finchem and the rest of the good people at the PGA Tour, who could never win this one, no matter what they did. I know that professional golfers know best, when it comes to professional golf, and I know I can't get my head to agree with my heart, and I am 100 percent certain I am not alone.

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