Recently the prominent golf organization, PGA announced a new partnership/merger (semantics are in question) with the newer golf organization who has made a big splash courting some major players, LIV. The partnership came as a major shock to players, fans and even organizational leadership as the two organizations have been turf warring for the last couple of years. It did not shock President Trump who, once again, proven himself to understand cause and effect better than any politician in America by predicting this merger a year ago.
On the other hand when Joe Biden was asked for a comment he said he’d “be in the PGA.” The White House does not seem to know what he meant by that.
Apparently, the big wigs at PGA and LIV have actually been meeting for months and decided on the partnership months ago whilst socializing in Italy (I’m picturing a Hallmark movie style setting featuring enemies turned to lovers and sunsetted gelato eating montages).
There is some controversy over the merger because players and fans have already drawn clear lines between the two organizations. On the one side you had an American legacy institution the PGA Tour which was cash strapped and losing big players to the other side which is a Saudi government owned organization with ties to maybe human rights violations but essentially no limit on cash flow.
Many PGA purists, setting aside the organization’s desperate need for cash, argued that playing for LIV was dangerous and immoral because of its ownership. Now they will have to decide if those feelings still stand with the organizations united.
If it makes them feel any better, here are a list of prominent sports organizations and their not-so-savory owners that no one seems to have any problem with:
- The NBA has large share Chinese team ownership
- Nets are about 55% Chinese owned
- Kings are about 30% Chinese owned
- Almost every team in the NBA has some Chinese ownership
- No less than six soccer (“football”) clubs are or have been recently owned by Russian oligarchs
- As Monaco
- Cercle Brugge
- Vitesse Arnhem
- Qatar not only has a team in FIFA but also hosted the World Cup in 2022 despite a myriad of human rights concerns including those from Amnesty International that included:
- Prohibition of free speech and assembly
- Criminalization of homosexuality
- Disallowance of female agency (no right to travel or earn wages outside of a male guardian)
Fun fact on the Qatar World Cup: Rep. Eric Swallwell attended and brought staff with him on a luxury trip to watch the event despite these heinous human rights violations.
- China, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain routinely sponsor drivers in the Formula One circuit and beyond
So whether or not PGA and LIV can thrive as one, certainly, professional sports have proven to be routinely buyable by not-so-savory actors and they have all thrived with little to no real criticism or push back making billions of dollars.
So whether or not LIV and PGA can merge harmoniously and make for entertaining and valued sporting events doesn’t seem to be really based on who owns the organizations. Just like how a lot of other popular entertainment and services are not owned by very nice people.
No matter what happens, golf will be just fine.