James Lawton: Golf has to learn that television must come second
Published 06/10/2010 | 00:00
Because of its glorious, self-sustaining format and the quality of some of its most competitive figures, the Ryder Cup yesterday survived the most desperate exploitation by its organisers.
So appalling was the decision to take the event to a Welsh valley at such a late date and a course ill-equipped to deal with rainfall that would have been comfortably absorbed by one of Britain's superb links courses, it would be nice to imagine that the game has learnt an important lesson.
However, it is still hard to be sanguine about the instincts of a world which has become so consumed by the need to grab money – and satisfy the TV paymaster. Indeed, when the people who had paid the standard price of £130 for the Sunday action, were locked out of the course before watching not the climax but the third of four days, it was hard to forget the origins of sport's subservience to the god of money and TV profit.
These, in the opinion of some, came in the 1980s when the New York Mets were playing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. It was pointed out to the TV men that their schedule, which demanded a 5pm start, could just not be met. At that time, the afternoon sun would be shining in the eyes of the batters. Playing at 5pm was impossible.
The reply from the corporate executive lounge was chilling. The only thing impossible was pre-empting the popular Bill Cosby Show. The rest, some might say, was pretty much inevitable.