You're Not Going to Watch LIV Golf

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LIV Golf is a sideshow. And as the case with all sideshows, it's meant as a distraction. This plucky, upstart league backed by the Saudi government aims to distract people's attention away from the PGA Tour and distract their attention away from a human rights record forced to take more than a few penalty strokes. It is such a specifically interesting development because the threat to golf as we know it seems both very real and cartoonishly non-threatening.

On paper, one can understand how the status quo will be completely upset if legions of pros follow the path blazed by Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau and others, holding their nose to receive a big, fat payday. But in practice, what does this really look like? Is LIV Golf a monumental moment in sports history that will change everything or a punchline and helpful identifier for the worst people in professional golf destined for spectacular failure?

Let's focus on trying to answer that question instead of infighting and arguing over the comparative virtues of Government X versus Government Y and the differences between individual and collective complicity in truly regrettable stuff just because the bottom line dictates setting aside those pesky morals. Any debate or discussion leaves minds in pretzels and can bring a person into contact with online's strangest creature: a person who will criticize both Republican and Democratic politicians alike for cavorting with unseemly types but happily bootlick for millionaire golfers to do the exact same thing.

May I suggest a compromise? One so simple that it just may work.

Go ahead and defend this league. Go ahead and claim it spells doom for the PGA. Go ahead and call those who are firing jokes off Luddites. If you are excited about LIV Golf, then prove it. Watch LIV Golf. Because I have a sneaking suspicion that you won't. That no one will. That this whole enterprise will barely spark before fizzling out. That it will always feel like a lesser product. That initial morbid curiosity will quickly fade.

Let's let the free market decide. Or at least decide as much as it can be decided when an unlimited hose of money is available to mitigate what is sure to be tremendous losses. Fast-forward in your mind a few years and try to imagine a robust and exhilarating LIV Golf weekend where the sport's boldest names are happy with their decision to secede from a previously productive union. It is very hard to do.

Far more likely is that the already splintered masses will continue to splinter as more and more realize they have better things to do than log onto a website and watch a second golf league that's not as good as the other one. Remember when the new and improved USFL launched to great fanfare and buzz? That was less than two months ago. Two! They had about two weeks where people tuned in to see what the deal was and then they left forever. No one is going to the games and no one is watching on television.

And that's exactly what my crystal ball forecasts for LIV. Right now they lack media partners with reach. They lack a television partner. Prospective partners need look no further than the USFL for evidence of the risk. Throw in tremendous volatility and an inherent culture war and you have a stew of uncertainty.

Maybe I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. Perhaps LIV is on the first teebox on a round that will shock and awe and forever change the balance of power. Even if it's not my cup of tea, I won't begrudge them their success if they're providing a product that people genuinely enjoy and find enriching. But there are many bunkers and hazards in the way to posting their desired score.

Support LIV Golf if you wish. Consume its offerings with gusto. Evangelize, because you're going to need to evangelize. You'll either be on the cutting edge or be forced to pivot into some sort of ironic fandom. Some contrarian play to show how interesting you are even if it's pretty lonely over in the live chat. Collect those bonafides like NFTs. Just be prepared for a bleak market when it's time to sell.