I would love to say it's not in my nature to pontificate on stuff that's none of my business, but, uh, it is, and it's about time I addressed what has become a grave concern within the ranks of the LPGA. I know you've heard it by now, but Commissioner Ty Votaw and player Sophie Gustafson have sent a shock wave through the sports world by coming out of the LPGA closet, wearing the biggest pair of shorts in the western hemisphere, one leg apiece. Yup, they've been playing stab the rabbit all right, and a whole lot of righteous golf folks are in shock and awe.
But the world is changing, and we all have to adapt. I mean for a start, look at my column! I'm down to one page, trapped inside the back cover like that ratbag Reilly from Sports Exaggerated, and as a result I'm reduced to brevity and accuracy, two concepts with which I'd never burdened myself before.
But onward. Against my better judgment I've been swotting up on all the written opinions on this disturbing matter, and it seems that this jury is pretty well hung. About half seem to be of the opinion that such a relationship is unethical, doomed from the start, and will result in tears for all concerned, while the other half won't cast stones at Sophie's choice. Moi? I'm with the latter group for a few reasons.
- The commish seems to have fixed a bunch of stuff.
- I can't spot anything broken any worse than it already was.
- There appears to be an adequate amount of hate, intolerance and ignorance in the world already.
- Ty and Sophie are of the same species and everything.
OK, I'm back. And when I think of it, I doubt if even the baseball Hall of Fame would make Pete go that far. Or Bud, for that matter. Now I just thought of a threesome with George Steinbrenner. Please, God, make it stop.
Critics of the Gustafson-Votaw relationship point to some future decision or conflict of interest he may encounter, which will make his position untenable. Well, maybe that'll happen, but until such time I kind of like what he's doing.
A few months ago, Annika, in her own unique, sweet way, delivered a velvet bludgeon to the swollen head of men's golf. Talk about one person making a difference. Sure, the LPGA has image problems, but after Annikapalooza it can make a big move forward, provided its players do what needs to be done.
For a start, whether they should be selling sex appeal shouldn't be a debate. Every sport sells sex appeal, period. Sport is about sex, the display, the rut and the ritual. Get over it. She Who Must Be Obeyed loves Tiger Woods — as do my sister, my daughter, your girlfriend and Bud Selig — not because Tiger can hit a ball with a stick, but because he's pretty, he smiles a lot and he can hit a ball with a stick. It's a hell of a concept, and it's catching.
The fact that Annika isn't playing for enough money is not the boys' fault. The players of the PGA Tour, NBA and NFL are all getting fitter and prettier, and hey, if the girls — yes, I said girls (get over it again) — would head to the gym like Annika it might be easier for Ty Votaw to sell women's golf to corporate America. It couldn't hurt if he showed up in the boardroom with Sophie on his arm, either. After all, you have to believe in your product.
(The writer freely admits that he has the body of a harbor seal, and would like to assure the readership that he has never seen Bud Selig naked. Although he once saw Mickey Mantle in his underpants — MICKEY'S underpants, that is.)