Do Ryder Cup Captains Matter? Probably Less Than You Think

Do Ryder Cup Captains Matter? Probably Less Than You Think

Paul Azinger caught the ire of ESPN management when he tweeted some opinionated “facts” about President Obama and the state of the POTUS’s golf game: “Facts: Potus has played more golf this month than I have: I have created more jobs this month than he has.” ESPN’s response: “Paul's tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field.”
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Today’s Ryder Cup teams consist of 12 players, a slew of vice captains and one man standing at the helm of the ship, leading it as the captain. But does he matter?

If he does, how much does the captain matter? It’s a line of questioning that has become relevant recently with the publishing of “The Captain Myth: How the Ryder Cup is Won.” Journalist Richard Gillis’ book dissects the influence of captains before, during, and after the event. Gillis joined the Podcast Thursday to discuss the book and theories included in it.

Gillis concludes that the captain role is often given more credit than it deserves, as well as more blame than it deserves. Momentum doesn’t matter. Being considered the underdog does matter. And likely what matters most of all is just plain luck. The media, fans’ desires, and our overarching love of storytelling is the background for many myths that surround the modern captaincy.

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“It is very difficult, if not impossible, to tell who is an American player and who is a European player,” Gillis said. “They’re a bit like cars and a bit like mobile phones; they’re all the same, and we resort to storytelling to tell the difference. The captain is the key storytelling device.”

Gillis explains those many things, as well as why Paul Azinger should NOT captain again, in the podcast below.