Sunday 11 December 2016

Touch of groupthink in golf's seven-star cocoon

Published 17/07/2016 | 02:30

'As they dropped out with a certain inevitability, you could get the impression that they were driven less by anxiety about the Zika virus, than the anxiety about their status in that seven-star cocoon - that when Rory made his statement, the rest felt obliged to follow him lest they be regarded as anything other than top players, these one-man corporations who are constantly measuring the size of their vital attributes against those of their nearest competitors.' REUTERS/Craig Brough
'As they dropped out with a certain inevitability, you could get the impression that they were driven less by anxiety about the Zika virus, than the anxiety about their status in that seven-star cocoon - that when Rory made his statement, the rest felt obliged to follow him lest they be regarded as anything other than top players, these one-man corporations who are constantly measuring the size of their vital attributes against those of their nearest competitors.' REUTERS/Craig Brough

There is a strange and terrible ritual which takes place every week on American television, whereby the chief executive of the corporation which is sponsoring the week's golf tournament on the PGA Tour is invited into the commentary box to accept the gratitude of the broadcasters, and also to describe the charitable projects which are being funded by the event.

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Usually they've been sponsoring the tournament for many years, so they will mention the overall amount which has been raised since the sponsorship started, and this can seem like quite a large number, maybe a ballpark 20 million for some local good cause, such as a children's hospital.

At which point the commentator, though duly deferential and sporting the blazer of his own corporation, will put forward the argument that the sponsor is merely trying to deal with the symptoms of capitalism rather than capitalism itself, that misplaced caring within this broken system is as wrong as no caring at all, that charity can be used as a mask for less worthy motivations, such as the encouragement of the ideological position that an essential social service such as healthcare is something that works better when it is in the gift of the wealthy, rather than available to the citizen as a fundamental human right.

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