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LIV League... why not!

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

I put on my history and ethics teacher hat (a profession I practiced for more than a decade) to address certain aspects that question me in recent world of golf news.

We hear a lot of arguments in favor of players who have decided to make the leap to the LIV League. Here are some of them and the counter-arguments.

1- We can't judge them for wanting the best for their family ($).

- When it's a multi-millionaire who makes this argument, he loses his credibility.

2- At some point, all money is dirty money. Whether it's PGA Tour, DP World Tour or LIV, it's the same story.

- The LIV Tour is directly financed by a program launched by MBS, Heir prince of Saudi Arabia with the aim of promoting (read making acceptable, frequentable and legitimate) the kingdom at the international level. This same kingdom is known as one of the dunces when it comes to respect for human rights. Dissidents are imprisoned, tortured or killed there. Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist whose murder was instigated by the Saudi authorities, and Raïf Badawi, who spent 10 years in prison after questioning the regime, are just a few examples of the regime's hateful nature. The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have their imperfections. But these circuits are owned by private interests and not the State. Therefore, one cannot blame them by association for the acts and ways of the United States and European countries in recent history.

3- The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have included tournaments played in equally detestable countries and regimes (China, United Arab Emirates, Russia...).

- It's true. I am not a cheerleader of these circuits and will not defend them on this point. We can decry this while decrying the LIV League.

4- In the United States, mass killings follow one another, the right to abortion recedes, blacks are treated as second-class citizens. They don't have a lesson to teach anyone.

- OK. But, the PGA Tour has nothing to do with these situations. The LIV League is directly financed by the Saudi regime which is directly responsible for the murders, imprisonments and executions of dissidents to the regime. Accepting to play this tour is making this regime more acceptable and let them continu treat their people like they do. It discourage dissidents trying to make things change. It makes this regime more prompt to influence and undermine western democracies.

Now, is the show given by the LIV league interesting? Most likely. Has the arrival of this league on the scene prompted the PGA Tour and the DP Tour to make major changes in their practices? Definitely.

However, all of these questions are futile and crumble like a house of cards when we dwell on substantive issues.

What are the gains of the different actors?

For Saudi Arabia, the answer is clear and very well documented: we want to whitewash its reputation and buy years of life expectancy from this murderous regime.

For players: money. At the signing alone, many obtain several times the sum of what they have been able to earn in their career so far.

For future broadcasters, the gain remains financial. They seem to be betting that golf fans will be there. For the moment no major broadcaster is at the rendezvous. In Quebec TVA Sports 2 broadcasts the LIV tournaments and internationally, the rounds are broadcast live on the LIV YouTube channel.

Now, what would be the potential payoff for the golf fan? More televised golf? A show different from other tours? I don't think people are fooled. The emotions experienced watching a final round of the PGA Tour can never be matched by this new player. Not for lack of star players. Not because of a lower level of play. Simply because of everything a win can mean. A victory on the PGA Tour changes an athlete's life forever. Not only is his financial future now secure for a few years (cheque coming with victory, access to major tournaments and various select tournaments, contracts with potential sponsors, etc.), but he is now part of a select club. (the inner circle of PGA Tour winners) recognized throughout the sport's long history. These elements are part of the essence of golf, make it beautiful and set it apart from other professional sports. The golfer had to perform to keep his job. LIV secures the financial future of its players (and for several generations for some) before a single shot is struck. No cuts and an insured check (over $120,000) to the golfer who finishes last on the leaderboard. Without forgetting the ethical debate: why would the golf fan play the role of the useful idiot in this non-subtle sports washing enterprise put forward by the Saudi regime? Why put your critical sense aside and bury all ethical considerations?

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