Bob Dylan once said “money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
In the case of the $25 million prize pools offered up by the Saudi Arabians’ new LIV Golf tour, it can buy silence as well.
LIV golfers — F-
One need only listen to the ramblings of Graeme McDowell from earlier this week to understand what exactly was purchased by the Saudi ruling class through its lavish new sports enterprise.
Pressed to respond to allegations his new billionaire buddies had Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi brutally murdered for having the gall to question their authority, the Irish golfer clumsily channeled Phil Hartman’s Caveman Lawyer routine.
“The Khashoggi situation, I think we all agree that was reprehensible. No-one’s going to argue that fact, but we’re golfers,” McDowell told reporters as American Dustin Johnson and South African Louis Oosthuizen sat alongside.
“Speaking personally, I really feel golf is a force of good in the world. I try to be a role model to kids. I know what the game has taught me. I love using the game of golf as something to help grow around the world and be role models to kids — try to use this game as a force for good. We’re not politicians, we’re professional golfers. If Saudi Arabia wants to use the game of golf as a way for them to get to where they want to be, I think we’re proud to help them on that journey.”
Full disclosure: The Grading the Week staff has never received an offer for our souls.
Such a proposition generally requires talent in return. And as longtime readers of this fair space can attest (if you actually exist), we have very little.
But we do know this much: If someone were to back up the Brinks’ truck outside our home office, we certainly wouldn’t mention the children after stuffing all of those bills into our pockets.
Apparently, McDowell’s idea of being a role model is to sell his services to the highest bidder — even one with an undeniably awful human rights record that includes the alleged murder of political adversaries and systematic oppression of women, migrant workers and LGBTQ people.
Perhaps since McDowell is only a golfer, he believes himself free of the stain that falls upon those who willingly align themselves with tyranny. It’s certainly clear he doesn’t think it’s his place to take a stand against abusive, authoritarian regimes.
“As golfers if we tried to cure geopolitical situations in every country in the world we played golf in,” he told reporters, “we wouldn’t play a lot of golf.”
Perish the thought.
Of course, McDowell and his fellow golfers aren’t alone in the sports world.
FIFA recently sold the World Cup to Qatar, the International Olympic Committee set up shop in China and Russia multiple times, and countless other leagues have chased dollars from similarly suspect corners of the world.
On the bright side, at least we can take solace in the fact that this will come at the expense of another despotic regime — the notoriously ruthless PGA Tour.
“You’re away from your family for 30-35 weeks a year. It has to be worth it financially, otherwise it’s a big sacrifice that you’re making for no return,” McDowell said.
Yes, after accumulating only $18.9 million in prize money in his 22-year career, the destitution stops now for McDowell.
All he had to do was accept a pile of cash from a group of people that oppresses many millions more.