Can you imagine being fined for “lack of effort”?
Fourth ranked men’s professional tennis player Nikolay Davydenko was fined $2000 for just that after losing a match in his home country of Russia to a player ranked outside the top 100.
How’s that for the ol’ heave ho… sigh… sputter… can I go home yet?
Allegations of match-fixing have been flying around for a while in professional tennis, and it’s just now coming to fruition. The organizations are considering an “integrity unit,” whatever that is.
How easy would it be to tell if a top ranked golfer was “mailing it in”? And does it even matter?
I can’t get beyond the “does it matter” question. Golf is such a fickle game that a player in the zone one day can play horribly the next. There is a margin these guys play within, and it’s fairly tight, but even the best players in the world will post a round in the high 70s a few times a year. A round which could be accused of lacking effort.
If the player knows he’s well outside the cut or not in contention on Sunday, some “lack of effort” can be presumed. It’s like a nod to the golf gods that he’ll save his best for the next tournament.
So, does it matter if a player tries his hardest? It might matter to the individual player and his image, but it likely doesn’t matter to the tournament.
Golf has long been known for it’s emphasis on self-regulation. It’s often said that if you want to teach your kids integrity, have them take up golf. Every round of golf offers the opportunity to cheat and to cheat yourself by giving in by becoming apathetic. What builds character is persevering when your fades are hooking and you’re hitting out of divots.
However, there’s no direct opponent in stroke play, so throwing a match isn’t possible. Even if a player does “check out early,” his impact on the tournament is far less noticeable than when a top ranked tennis player throws a match. And no one at home can tell when a golfer is displaying a “lack of effort.”
One of the many great things about televised golf is that it ignores most golfers (excepting Tiger Woods) when they’re not playing well. It’s tough to pull away from a featured tennis match.
(Or maybe professional golf needs an integrity committee along with it’s new drug testing policy.)